Posted at: 12/11/2012 8:36 PM
Updated at: 12/11/2012 8:39 PM
By: Ray Levato
Why is Monroe County spending almost half-a-million dollars a year for a small office space that houses county employees? That's the question county democrats are asking.
This came out of the democrats opposition to County Executive Maggie Brooks' “Snow Tax”. They're suggesting other ways to come up with that money.
Monroe County already has a substantial office presence in that big building at West Main Street. Democrats say there are just 12 employees in a building right next door, the Wegman building, but the county disputes that number.
Carrie Andrews, (D) Legislature Minority Leader, said, “I think it's wasting taxpayer dollars.”
Carrie Andrews is the Democratic Minority Leader in the county legislature.
Andrews said, “It certainly seems to me that we could find space for 12 county employees in facilities we own or already are paying for.”
This is what Maggie Brooks says about the Wegman Building.
Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Executive, said, “We do have a responsibility to operate county government. And the building that you're talking about is a location where we house county employees. And it may only be 12 people, but it's a location that's been there for a long time. And it's a location that needs to be accessible to the public.”
Democrats also question the rental agreement with the estate of developer and former county legislator Peter Formicola. County taxpayers are paying $900,000 a year to lease two Main Street parking lots.
Brooks said, “The parking lots they talk about, the Peter Formicola estate, they forget that we did bring proposals to the county legislature to give those properties back to the company. And the Democrats voted against it.”
But Andrews says Democrats have been in favor of ending those leases. She also questions the county practice of handing out lucrative leases to Republican party contributors.
Andrews said, “There are a couple of spaces the county has long-term leases with that are very prominent Republican contributors. It's something that should be fully vetted and the public should be aware of.”
News10NBC asked people on Main Street what they thought about this.
Shane Ashton said, “That's over about $40,000 a person, right? I always wonder where all the money goes, so.”
Barbara Fachini said, “Why do we spend money on something like that when the county is in such need for other stuff like services for families that don't have, or Moms out here who have kids that don't have. Why put the money there?”
The county says the rent for the Wegman building is $430,000, not $500,000. Even though Maggie Brooks talked about 12 people, her spokesman says there are 64 people working here who are either county employees or contract employees performing county functions.
The county says the $900,000 lease for two parking lots gives it the “right of first refusal” should a buyer come forward to purchase the property. The county says with the growth of businesses and economic revitalization in the area, the lease ensures a county role in any future development of the property. One of the things being talked about is a parking garage.