February 19, 2019
Our View

KCC continues to mislead taxpayers

Posted

“This is kind of dangerous to talk about because it’s tough. It’s really tough. It’s hard for me too, because I’m somewhat of an emotional character. I like to see things stay the same. But we can’t do it. We can’t do it and effectively use the public’s tax dollars. So what do we do?”

Apparently the answer is to deceive the taxpayers.

The quote in the opening of this piece is from Kirtland Community College President Tom Quinn, who is also the chairman of the Ogemaw County Economic Development Corporation, during a meeting at the college’s West Branch campus that, according to a letter only posted to the city of West Branch’s Facebook page just hours before it was scheduled to begin, was designed to seek public input on what to do next with the campus.

But if you’re looking for input from the public, wouldn’t it make sense to invite the actual public? KCC Director of Public Information Sarah Holecheck told the Herald last week that the letter was sent to city council members. It stated that they were welcome to bring a friend. Why were those seven people the only ones chosen to receive a letter? The KCC West Branch facility is not even in the city of West Branch — it’s in West Branch Township, and none of the officials there were invited to the meeting.

Quinn warned at the meeting that if a solution could not be found for the campus, the college would sell it. However, according to an article in the Gaylord Herald Times, Quinn told Otsego County commissioners — who aren’t even part of the KCC district by the way — that the meeting was scheduled to inform the public that the West Branch campus was closing.

So it appears as if the book has already closed for West Branch, but despite the fact that there were only five people in attendance at the West Branch meeting, not counting Quinn himself, he offered hope that there might be a solution.

But it’s not surprising. Quinn has a history of misleading the taxpayers.

Such was the case with the college’s shiny new campus in Grayling. While the campus was being constructed, Quinn said the intent was not to move Kirtland to Grayling. The Roscommon campus would remain the college’s home; this was just a satellite campus.

When the facility was finished, Quinn stood firm — he was not moving KCC to Grayling. But then things started happening. Services started moving. Suddenly students had to travel to Grayling to take classes. Then the bookstore moved, as did food services. The Roscommon campus lost entrances and a parking lot. But they weren’t moving, oh no.

Except that’s exactly what happened. In January, the college board voted to change its mailing address to Grayling.

“And some people drive by and they say, ‘Oh my God, you’re closing this up.’ Yeah, we are,” Quinn said about the Roscommon campus during his Jan. 22 meeting in West Branch.

He told Otsego commissioners that KCC may transfer all its programs to Grayling from Roscommon in the future, according to the Gaylord Herald Times.

Now he’s happy to admit the college has moved. He’s gotten his way, thanks to the taxpayers and the students who unfortunately chose to get their schooling from KCC.

And Quinn’s deception doesn’t end there. A look through the Herald archives will net you numerous other times he assured us that no, we were incorrect that something was happening, only for him to carry it out months later.

The West Branch campus, which was never given a real chance by KCC, is the latest victim — a shrine to the wasted tax dollars of area taxpayers toward a college that continues to abandon the community it’s supposed to serve. Based on a professional opinion coupled with the fact that the college spent more than $300,000 on the property alone, there is likely more than a million dollars wrapped up in that near-vacant building.

It’s time for this to end. We’ve been standing on the mountaintops for the past several years screaming for residents to listen, but just now many are beginning to realize what is happening. It’s time to step up. Go to the next college board meeting. Call the board members. Call Quinn’s office. Let KCC know you are unhappy with the deception and the way your tax dollars are being wasted.

And the next time they ask for taxpayer support, we would suggest you support the organizations and government entities who apply your dollars to your community, instead of building a Taj Mahal out of county.

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