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Pr. George's Council Okays Furlough, Delays Lease

In its final session of the summer Tuesday, the Prince George's County Council approved a plan to furlough county workers for 10 days for the second straight year, but deferred a vote on a controversial measure to lease a pricey office space in New Carrollton amid cries from critics that it is wasteful and ill-timed.

The furloughs, included in the county's adopted budget earlier this year, received final approval after weeks of delay. Public safety union leaders have been vocal opponents of the furloughs, arguing they will endanger citizens in need of emergency responders.

The lease proposal was thought to have died in committee earlier this year, when critics, including public safety union officials, decried the effort as unaffordable as the county was facing a budget crisis, furloughing employees and considering mass layoffs.

Council member Eric Olson (D-College Park) revived the lease plan at county executive Jack B. Johnson's request last month, asking the council to approve a 10-year lease at about $1 million a year of 38,000 square feet attached to a New Carrollton hotel.

The goal is to move employees in the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Housing and Redevelopment Authorities from their existing county-owned locations in Largo to the rental space.

Johnson (D) has been lobbying the council to approve the measure, arguing that the existing space is outdated, unsafe and inconvenient, and recently took members of the council on a tour of the Largo building to demonstrate his case.

Advocates at a public hearing Tuesday argued that the move would help revitalize the New Carrollton area, and would offer more convenient transportation.

-- Jonathan Mummolo

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  July 21, 2009; 1:32 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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As a resident of PG county, I'd like to know when the county council and the county executive take their 10 days of furlough and unpaid leave to match with other county employees. Even if it isn't signficant money wise (it would probably end up only being around $100-200K), it would still be received as them doing their part at their higher salaries to show solidarity for the lower paid county employees.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | July 21, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

That hotel office space lease deal smells. Someone is clearly getting a kick-back or some other "consideration".

Johnson should have taken everyone on a tour over to the hotel instead of to Largo - as they would then see there is no way all those people will fit into that quirky hotel space, as it lacks adequate parking, amongst other ordinary office building items.

There is also not enough square footage for it to be worth anywhere near a million dollars a year. Someone should tell Mr. Johnson that he is leasing ordinary office space, not a bunch of penthouse suites.

Posted by: mm489942 | July 21, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

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