Erie County Council member asking for Empower Erie to be transparent

Local News

A member of Erie County Council has now joined those looking for answers for Empower Erie, the group promoting a community college.

Councilman Brian Shank has filed a formal request of Empower Erie after allegedly receiving a bill from the group asking for more than $100,000.

Empower Erie saying this issue has already been handled and taken care of. Attorney Tim McNair saying this is a tactic to try and embarrass Empower Erie, saying they have been transparent.

“I have a letter here from the attorneys of Empower Erie asking us for $110,000,” Shank said. “No invoice, no receipt, just a paper saying ‘give us money.'”

This bill prompting Erie County Council member Brian Shank to send a two page formal request to Empower Erie’s Tim McNair, saying:

“It is my fiduciary duty as a duly-elected member of Erie County Council to ensure taxpayer funds are spent in a legal, ethical, and fiscally responsible manner.”

“I want to see where that money is going,” Shank said. “That is our job, to make sure we know where every dime that we collect from taxpayers is accounted for.”

Attorney Tim McNair, who is representing Empower Erie, explaining to us that the organization was going to pay Erie County’s legal fees and costs for expert witnesses for the upcoming evidentiary hearing before the State Board of Education.

Empower Erie was going to seek reimbursement. However, Council’s finance committee decided weeks ago that the county would just pay those bills directly. Empower Erie is no longer seeking payment.

“It’s been a dead issue. It was a live issue for maybe an hour and now it has been a dead issue. You know, people get ahead of documents and up it on their cork board with a red ribbon running from one to the other and here we are..” McNair said.

McNair feels the councilman’s request is pointless and that Empower Erie has been open with the public.

“We’re as transparent as we need to be. I don’t think we need to let people route through our books and try to characterize some expense one way or the other. That is not how it works.” McNair said.

In the request, councilman Shank is asking for Empower Erie to respond by Friday, February 28th. Attorney McNair saying they do not plan on responding, because he feels the issue has already been handled.

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