Comptroller to freeze warehouse payments

Capitol News

ILLINOIS — Three warehouse owners who won a lucrative deal with the state won’t see that money anytime soon. The timeline holds the real key.

Earlier Thursday, a bipartisan letter to Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office called on her to immediately cease payments to the owners of a 60,000 square foot warehouse, leased to the state for $2.4 million; way above market value.

Her office plans to honor the request in that letter, but it’s where those papers came from which has many scratching their heads. The documents were sitting in an empty jail facility in Dwight.

The Department of Central Management says the property is in disrepair, leaking water and threatening to damage the records. It’s unclear what steps the state could take to permanently break the lease, now that it’s already moved in.

CMS claims the building is roughly 60% occupied with paper records. One member of the procurement board says they may have a way to back out of the deal even though it’s already signed.

The irony here is, if Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration passed a budget, the comptroller would have significantly less power to delay or freeze the payments, but with so many schools, rehab centers and human service providers going months without being paid, a court granted the comptroller autonomy to decide who gets paid and who has to wait in line.

A spokesperson for the comptroller says, “Reporting shows this appears to be a good deal for politically-connected insiders like the Cellini family, but a bad deal for taxpayers.”

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