Koch administration’s poor planning costing taxpayers nearly $500,000 a year in unnecessary lease payments

QUINCY—Poor planning and financial mismanagement by the Koch administration are costing Quincy taxpayers nearly half a million dollars a year in leased office space – all while a Quincy-owned building sits vacant, mayoral candidate Anne Mahoney said today.

Mahoney, the vice chairman of the School Committee, said the Koch administration’s recent announcement of two separate lease agreements demonstrates the financial mismanagement she says has characterized the administration.

In one lease arrangement, the city is paying $180,000 a year to lease office space in the Munroe Building to house just 16 City Hall employees while renovations to Old City Hall are contemplated. And last week, the mayor’s office announced that the city had extended a $289,000 annual lease to provide office space in the NAGE building for Quincy Public Schools administrators while Coddington Hall is renovated.

Together, the two leases are costing the city $469,000 a year.

“At a time when city budgets are strained and local families are hurting, these expensive lease agreements illustrate the poor planning and financial mismanagement happening at City Hall under the current administration,” Mahoney said. “Had Mayor Koch planned properly, these leases would have been unnecessary and the city would be saving half a million dollars a year.”

Mahoney noted that Coddington Hall – which has enough space to house both the QPS administrators and the City Hall staff and offers ample parking – has been available since September 2010, when the new Quincy High School opened. Had the Koch administration begun renovating Coddington at that time, she said, there likely would have been no need to lease space in either the Munroe Building or the NAGE building.

“There is absolutely no excuse other than mismanagement as to why the renovations to Coddington aren’t done,” said Mahoney, noting that the city hasn’t even hired an architect yet. “Everyone knew when the students would be moving into the new high school and if the Koch administration had planned accordingly, they would have been ready to begin renovations to Coddington in accordance with that timeline. But their lack of planning is now costing the taxpayers.”

Even more troubling, she said, is the fact that the city is paying for the two leases out of two different city bonds.

“For the city to pay for leased office space with borrowed money is the equivalent of a family paying its mortgage with a credit card,” said Mahoney. “It’s financial mismanagement, plain and simple.”

In the case of the Munroe Building lease, the mayor’s office used money from a 2007 municipal bond to enter into the lease agreement in 2010 without prior authorization from the City Council, prompting strong criticism from several councilors when they learned of the lease agreement in May 2011.

“Tom Koch mismanaged this process from start to finish, entering into a lease with borrowed funds without the approval of the City Council,” Mahoney said. “It’s just another sign that the mayor’s office doesn’t have a handle on how to manage the city or its finances.”

Mahoney also questioned whether it is permissible for the city to be paying the $289,000 NAGE lease out of the bond issued for construction of the high school.

“That money was borrowed for a very specific purpose – the construction of the high school – and I question whether the city should be using those funds to pay for this lease now that the high school is completed,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney, who holds a degree in finance, pledged to assume tighter control over the city’s finances if elected.

“By properly forecasting the city’s revenue sources and expenditures, we’ll avoid such costly and unnecessary expenses, freeing up more money for essential city services,” Mahoney said. “I’ll make sure that Quincy’s budget meets the standards set by the Government Finance Officers Association – the ‘gold standard’ for municipal budget transparency – and assemble a financial leadership team based on professional qualifications, not political connections.”

Mahoney grew up in Quincy and attended the Quincy Public Schools, graduating with a degree in finance from Suffolk University. A consultant to a major financial institution, Mahoney and her husband, Kevin Mahoney, started Cyclone Design, Inc., a graphic design company, in Quincy Center in 1993. They are the parents of three children, all of whom attend the Quincy Public Schools.

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