Amherst Media, city manager, argued over the allocation of funds to pay off the mortgage

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AMHERST – Whether Amherst Media should be given $ 139,000 from city funds to pay off a mortgage loan for a half-acre land plot has been a matter of controversy.

In 2013, Amherst Media acquired a 0.55-acre site at the corner of Main and Gray Streets, where they eventually plan to build a new 4,570-square-foot building to house workers and studios. The planning board approved the construction last year after reviewing the site plan.

According to Amherst Media, the total amount of the mortgage was $ 221,000, of which $ 82,000 was paid out and $ 139,000 remained on the balance sheet.

“The amount we requested was $ 139,000: the running balance of the original $ 221,000 mortgage loan. We decided that if we pay off the balance of the mortgage, we will use the $ 350,000 land valuation as collateral when seeking our construction loan. By doing so, we will also ease the burden of the more than $ 14,000 per year that we currently pay out of interest on our very limited annual operating budget, ”Amherst Media said in a recent letter to City Director Paul Bockelman and 13 City Councilors. …

However, Bokelman said he is concerned that freeing up the money for reasons cited by Amherst Media could violate procurement laws.

City-owned funds from cable TV provider Comcast will be used by Amherst Media to purchase equipment, he said.

In a July 15 letter to Bockelman, Amherst Media CEO Jim Lescolt said that the money had been unsuccessfully sought since December. If the City disburses the requested $ 139,000 to pay off the mortgage, he said, $ 365,724 will remain for equipment for the remaining five years of the contract.

“The question to be asked is, since the city manager is the only signature in the contract between the city and Amherst Media, who in the city government can ask Amherst Media to intervene and help mediate when serious conflict issues arise?” – wrote Leko.

In addition, the City Council, the Public Safety Working Group, also sent a letter to Bokelman and the City Council on this matter this week, in particular, which stated: “By denying Amherst Media the funds necessary to allow them to move, grow and continue to work. service for residents of Amherst; a bigger message is being sent to the community, and that is that community transparency and access don’t matter. ”

In an email to the Republican, Bokelman said that “we had problems: on the plot of land and (c) whether Amherst Media could continue to fulfill its mission of providing PEG services to the population of Amherst, given its core funding to cut back on mortgage loans held by the bank.”

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