ECGRA to Vote on Contract Renewal with Lobbying Group - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

ECGRA to Vote on Contract Renewal with Lobbying Group

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The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority is planning to rehire a government relations firm to lobby on its behalf in Harrisburg and Washington D.C.

But local leaders are questioning the firm's intentions, moving forward.

On Tuesday, members of ECGRA met with Erie County Council members, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, and state representatives to discuss the authority's future plans.

ECGRA hired the Ridge Policy Group 18 months ago, to lobby for additional funding Harrisburg and Washington D.C.

"They are really the group that helps market us to the state and federal bureaucracy,” said ECGRA Executive Director Perry Wood.  “When we go after these funds, we have a better chance at getting them.”

The authority, which receives $5.5 million of the $11 million in casino money every year, pays the Ridge Policy Group $4,000 a month.

The contract between both parties expired, so ECGRA wants to renew the group’s services for another five months.

"In my experience, it's been essential to have that kind of presence in Harrisburg and D.C. working alongside elected officials, in order to make sure Erie gets its fair share.” said Wood.

In the past year and a half, Erie County Councilman Fiore Leone says he's seen no results.

"They are going to be paying a substantial amount of money to a lobbying firm, to do lobbying, I don't know what for to be honest with you,” said Leone.  “In the last 18 months that they've been hired by ECGRA, they haven't accomplished anything."

Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper says the group has never reached out to her.

"For them to never have talked to me for 18 months, is a concern of mine,” said Dahlkemper.  “My question to them, is what is your plan moving forward?”

The ECGRA board is expected to vote on the contract on Thursday morning.

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