Congressman’s free lease extended after Statesboro council gets answer
After raising the question two weeks ago, the Statesboro City Council on Dec. 20 unanimously approved a two-year extension of U.S. Rep. Rick Allen’s rent-free lease for a constituent services staff office within City Hall.
On a motion by District 3 Councilwoman Venus Mack, seconded by District 4 Councilman John Riggs, council members voted 4-0 to renew the lease after being informed that the cities of Dublin and Vidalia are also offering space. for rent-free office for member of Georgia’s 12th district. of Congress. District 1 Councilor Phil Boyum was absent due to illness.
All members were present Dec. 6 when they voted 5-0 on a motion by District 2 Councilwoman Paulette Chavers, seconded by Mack, to table a resolution on the lease renewal requesting more information. The question originally posed by Chavers was why the office was given for free. Boyum then rephrased it as, “Is he getting free resources all over the district?”
In fact, Allen gets the Dublin and Vidalia district office spaces for free, but pays rent for a larger office suite in a private complex in Augusta, his Communications Director Michael Plummer told the Statesboro Herald in a phone call on the 6 December.
Allen’s Dublin office space is within Dublin City Hall. The Vidalia office is in the Vidalia Community Center, which also houses the Toombs County Senior Center.
The leased Augusta location, which serves as Allen’s district headquarters, is in the Augusta Corporate Center.
Olympia Gaines, Statesboro’s assistant city manager, contacted the Dublin and Vidalia city governments and confirmed they do not charge a fee to use the space, she said in a memo, also dated Dec. 6, to the mayor and the council. .
If any rent were to be included, it would be an expense of the US taxpayer paid through the Office of Finance in the US House of Representatives, which is identified, for the resolution of any dispute, in the terms of the new lease. Rent-free agreements are common across the country, with members from both parties, when space is provided by local governments, Plummer explained in the Dec. 6 interview.
“It would make sense for governments to pool their resources and help each other. …” he said. “Among other things, it would save taxpayers money, so these are resources better used to serve the residents of the district.”
Plummer and Riggs had both noted that the Statesboro deal extended back into the term of former 12th District Rep. John Barrow, a Democrat.
Allen, a Republican from Augusta, has represented Georgia’s 12th district in the U.S. House of Representatives since January 3, 2015. He was re-elected on November 8 to a fifth two-year term, already covered by the term of the renewed lease: January 2, 2023 to January 2, 2025.
The Statesboro County Office, across the hall from the mayor’s office, is assigned to Allen Regional Representative Austin Stacy, who maintains office hours here and holds periodic “community office” sessions at various locations in smaller counties. , which have no district. the offices.
The phone number for the Statesboro office is (912) 243-9452, and contact information for all Allen office locations can be found on its website, https://allen.house.gov.