MARS, Pa. (KDKA) — A satellite office leased by State Representative Daryl Metcalfe is raising questions.
The Johnston House in Mars plays host to bridal showers and wedding receptions, but there’s also an office leased by Rep. Metcalfe, though few people know it’s there.
There are no signs indicating the office and it is not listed on his state website. But in the basement of a tea house is an office leased by Rep. Metcalfe for which taxpayers pay $475 a month.
Landlord John Johnston says he has only seen people on occasion.
“As long as my tenants are good tenants, pay on time, don’t cause issues, that’s what I’m looking at,” Johnston said.
But over the past three and half years, state expense records show that Pennsylvania taxpayers have shelled out $20,900 to rent the space.
“There’s no sign, no type of advertisement, no listing on phone books,” said Metcalfe’s Democratic challenger Dan Smith. “There is nothing else to indicate this office is in use.”
Smith obtained the expense reports through a Right-to-Know Request and calls the expenditure a waste of public funds, which flies in the face of Metcalfe’s public persona as a fiscal conservative.
“I just don’t understand. If you’re protecting the taxpayer, why are we doing this?” Smith said.
Reached Tuesday night by KDKA’s Jen Borrasso, Metcalfe defended the renting of the office, saying that although it is not staffed, he’s has used it for legislative duties and storage space after closing another satellite office years ago.
“We don’t have signage, we don’t have anybody staffing that office to save costs,” Rep. Metcalfe said. “But we did need the extra space, which we use that office for. We have a phone there, a computer. Over the years, we’ve had both of those there.”
Rep. Metcalfe does maintain another office in the Cranberry Township Municipal Building. It’s clearly marked and there is a full-time staff inside to handle constituent services. Taxpayers pay $921 a month for this space, and Smith questions why Metcalfe doesn’t just store the phone and computer in the municipal building?
“If he was truly fiscally conservative, he would have done the right thing and put our tax dollars back into our community by doing it at the municipal building as well,” Smith said.
Rep. Metcalfe maintains there’s not enough space in the Cranberry office and the Mars office space has been used and is needed. However, the lease expires on Nov. 20 and he says it will not be renewed.