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LAWMAKERS FINALIZE PLANS TO MOVE OFFICES

The County Legislature on Tuesday completed arrangements for the move of seven departments from county-owned buildings to downtown Lockport.

The lawmakers ratified a $300,000-a-year, 10-year lease with Ulrich Development Co. for the 27,404-square-foot Golden Triangle Building at Main and Market streets.

Within four months, that building is to become the new home of the Lockport location of the auto bureau; the Board of Elections; the Office of the Aging; the Veterans Services and Risk and Insurance Services offices; and the Probation and Human Resources departments.

Ulrich will be paid $10.97 per square foot in the first year of the lease. The price will increase by 2.5 percent per year thereafter.

The Legislature agreed to an annual price increase in exchange for Ulrich agreeing to pay the full tax bill for the building every year. Previously, the county was expected to pick up city and school tax increases above the 2002 tax level.

"Whatever you feel is equitable, I'm willing to go along with," company President David L. Ulrich told the Legislature's Finance Committee. "I don't want any question in your mind this is a good deal for you."

Also, the lease now includes a provision giving the county an out if the maintenance isn't to the county's liking. An arbitrator to be chosen by the Better Business Bureau will referee any such disputes.

The move of the departments was made necessary by a demand from the state Office of Court Administration for increased space in the Courthouse for County, Surrogate's and Family courts.

The county is required by law to provide "adequate" court facilities, and the state is the only judge of what's adequate.

The cost of the wiring of the building into the county computer network and the move itself will be paid by the county. Public Works Commissioner Dorson R. Wilson estimated the cost of all the shuffling at $500,000.

A proposed request to the State Legislature for permission to impose a $1-a-night tax on hotel and motel bills was dropped from the agenda following party caucuses.

Legislator Robert R. Villani, R-Town of Niagara, said the tax is on hold pending the recommendations of a consultant hired by the local State Legislature delegation to report on local tourism promotion.

The report, which will discuss in part the relationship between the county tourism office and the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau, is to be released Thursday.

On other topics, the Legislature ratified the appointment of Edmond C. Marchi as Mount View Health Facility administrator, effective Dec. 17, at a salary of $72,246.

The lawmakers also appropriated $45,000 to keep the Buffalo accounting firm of Freed Maxick on the job at Mount View to prepare this year's financial reports.

First Niagara Risk Management was hired on a one-year, $27,000 contract to help run the county workers' compensation pool.

The Legislature also gave the Board of Health permission to offer its chosen candidate for the new public health director up to $69,246 a year. The board is expected to choose a successor to the retiring Shirley A. Sampson on Sept. 27.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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