In a rare departure from unanimity, York County Commissioners on Wednesday voted 2-1 to approve a new 11-year lease for the offices of District Judge John Fishel in Windsor Township.
At the center of the debate was whether the county should renew a lease that was set to expire next month or relocate the office to Chanceford Township. A site there was left vacant earlier this year after redistricting closed the office of District Judge Nancy Edie.
The county is contractually obligated to pay $63,000 per year under a lease agreement for the Chanceford Township office until 2018, even though it's not being used and the county hasn't yet been able to find a sublet.
Vice President Commissioner Doug Hoke, who cast the dissenting vote, argued the decision was the most fiscally irresponsible move the board has made in the four years and nine months he's served.
It's also, he said, contradictory to President Commissioner Steve Chronister's plan to save the county money on leases by constructing county-owned buildings and negotiating more "sensible" leases.
But Chronister and Commissioner Chris Reilly, who both voted in favor, said the county had little choice but to renegotiate a lease with the building owners at 2997 Cape Horn Road.
Police department's stance: York Area Regional Police Chief Tom Gross, whose department covers the area, told commissioners at their Wednesday meeting that the change would cost the department an extra 35,000 miles per year, about $20,000 extra in gas and as much as $14,000 per year in overtime for officers to drive the extra 7.2 miles down to the former Edie office off Delta Road, Route 74.
He said the extra travel time would also be an inconvenience to residents who use the office, as most of them live in the Red Lion and Windsor areas.
But Hoke, after casting the negative vote, said few people use the district offices unless they're defendants, and he doesn't care if they have to drive a little farther to pay fines. He said all York County residents are wasting $63,000 per year for the next six years to rent Edie's former space.
Chronister said the county is actually only losing $18,000 per year to keep both offices running.
If it moved Fishel's office to Chanceford Township, the county would lose thousands of dollars because of increased costs of subpoena services, mail service, and prisoner transportation. The county can also recover some of the $63,000 in yearly lease payments for Edie's former building when it finds someone to sublet the space, he said.
Under the current agreement, the county pays $48,000 per year to rent Fishel's space.
Under the agreement approved at the meeting, the county will pay owners Jim and Nena Argento $25,000 per year from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2018 and $55,000 per year from Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2023.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.