Without public bidding, the state government has approved a lease that was arranged by a Baltimore County Democratic leader to provide office space for the new state property tax relief program.
Acting Maryland Gov. Blair Lee III shepherded the lease through its final approval by the Board of Public Works. He defended the lease, made possible by an emergency clause never used before, saying it was important during this election year.
We're very anzious to have the program start on time and I think the legislators all wanted to have it move along so they could have it move along so they could have some tangible results by election day,' Lee said last week.
The property tax relief package was one of the major pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly this session and one meant to satisfy the complaints of Maryland's homeowners.
Even though the bills have yet to be signed into law by Lee, state departments went ahead and approed the lease so that the Towson office could be set up by May 1.
Edward A.Griffith, realtor and chairman of Baltimore County's delegation to the state Central Commitee of the Democratic Party, said he will earn less than the standard 6 percent commission on the $113,400, three - year rent agreement he arranged.
'We rented it to the state for $12,000 less a year than IBM (the former occupant) paid,' he said. 'That's much less than the market value and, frankly it's unusual that any space could be available in three weeks.'
Griffith said his political affiliations and commission had no bearing on the matter. 'It was finding space in a hurry,' he said.
William L. Shoemaker, director of Assessment and Taxation, said the Towson site was requested because employes would have parking and transportation problems if they worked in the city.
There were 12 builidings suggested by the Department of General Services; only two were in Towson. One of the Baltimore buildings cost at least $1 percent per square foot than the Towson building chosen but was not accepted because renovations might be needed.