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Payment from county sought for auto office

After opening a satellite office for the Erie County Auto Bureau in Tonawanda City Hall a year ago, Tonawanda officials are hoping to renew the arrangement with the county. But it will not come without a price.

Tonawanda currently allows the county to operate an office in City Hall for free, but Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi hopes that any renewal of the agreement will provide the city with compensation for use of its office space. Pilozzi is looking for about $4,200 a year for the use of 420 square feet of space, about the same rate Tonawanda charges the state for use of its courtroom.

"We don't get anything for it," Pilozzi said of the Auto Bureau agreement. "In fairness to the county, they're doing our people a favor. But at the same time, if you have a room for rent, do you give it away for free?"

Although the city is looking for money, officials said they would be open to other forms of compensation. Pilozzi and the Common Council discussed the possibility of installing an elevator in City Hall as one of the ideas, as the city has longed to complete such a project for years now but has never had the money.

City Administrative Assistant Donald P. Witkowski said that the city would be interested in getting funds from the county to help build the elevator but that it seems unlikely. Negotiations between the city and county are expected to begin during the holiday week.

"We should get something," said Council President Carleton R. Zeisz. Although the agreement between the two concludes Jan. 1, it is unlikely a new arrangement will be approved by that time, as it requires authorization from the Council.

The Council will not meet until the first week of January. However, the Auto Bureau office will continue to operate in City Hall with the start of the new year.

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