Thursday, August 16, 2007

Money Well Spent

It's looking more and more as though the campaign contributions that flowed into Oneida County Clerk Sandra DePerno's coffers last year are paying back big dividends.

The Oneida County clerk is not charging abstract companies for space they occupy in the office, which could cost the county up to $30,000 this year.

County Clerk Sandra DePerno, who took office in January, said Wednesday she plans to make up the revenue elsewhere. She did not specify how.

"It's at my discretion," DePerno said, following the Oneida County Board of Legislators Internal Affairs Committee meeting, when asked why she chose to eliminate the rental fee.

Former clerk Rick Allen charged the companies rent throughout his tenure from 2001 to 2006. The administration before Allen did not charge the fee, DePerno said.

Oddly enough, although Ms. DePerno has come clean about what she did she still hasn't offered up a rationale for why she did it. A cynical man might suggest that she was paying back the same people that helped get her elected. Me? I think she just realized she was making the County too darn much money.

The 2007 county budget included $30,000 from the rental fees, and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente questioned why DePerno would cut any source of revenue.

"It will be a problem if it's not made up at the end of the year," said Picente, a Republican.

But Oneida County Comptroller Joe Timpano said $30,000 is not going to make or break the budget, and DePerno has discretion over her budget.

That's good to know. Based on Mr. Timpano's statement I hope we'll be seeing at least a $30,000 cut in the Clerk's budget for next year. Heck, what's $30,0000 in the big picture? It's not like the county is strapped for income and just passed a massive sales tax increase.

Oh, wait...

As a sidebar to the rent reduction story we get this priceless gem:

A task force is studying the possibility of posting Oneida County records online, county Clerk Sandra DePerno told the Oneida County Legislature's Internal Affairs Committee Wednesday.

The task force, formed by DePerno to get ideas about how to handle the records, includes abstractors, attorneys and a county legislator.

So the task force deciding if property records should be online is made up of lawyers and representatives from abstract companies.

The two groups that just happen to gain the most if those records aren't freely available on the internet.

The two groups that funneled thousands of dollars in contributions to Ms. DePerno's campaign.

The two groups that saved tens of thousands of dollars in expenses when Ms. DePerno magnanimously decided to stop charging them rent for space in her office.

Must be another one of those amazing coincidences that seem to happen so often hereabouts.