Mark Assini and Chrissy Casilio, candidates for county executive in Monroe and Erie counties respectively, say they're concerned about the financial and operational implications of the New York City comptroller’s decision to decline the approval of a $432 million emergency contract with DocGo, a medical services provider the city had tapped to care for asylum seekers.
DocGo has coordinated the relocation and services for both counties and is responsible for paying vendors. In a statement, Assini said New York City must reinstate the contract with significant changes, replace DocGo or Monroe County must manage migrants directly with county personnel and funds, which he said he would strongly oppose.
In Erie County, Casilio took it a step further. She believes the current administration has failed to communicate with New York City and DocGo, and County Executive Mark Poloncarz must ask New York City and DocGo who will make current and future payments and how.
Casilio said legal action is necessary to ensure the county isn't stuck with the bill.
"New York City welcomed this crisis to its doorstep but the residents of Erie County did not," she said. "It is time to take legal action file suit against New York City for reimbursement, to legally prevent any more migrants from entering Erie County and to force New York City to bus migrants back to New York City."
Poloncarz's office declined to comment, noting it has no control over how New York City handles internal contracts and financial matters. DocGo has coordinated the relocation of more than 500 asylum seekers from the city to Erie County beginning in early June.
Mayor Eric Adams agreed to pause it, however, at Poloncarz's request last month following public safety issues, including separate incidents of migrants accused of sexual assault and rape. DocGo is subcontracting to several migrant and refugee service organizations in Erie County, with Jericho Road Community Health Center as the lead.
Jericho Road said it is unable to comment on the contract issue at the time, but is looking into how it might affect the organization. Meanwhile, DocGo was ordered by a judge to participate in litigation between the Town of Cheektowaga and three hotels housing migrants.
However, the court on Tuesday canceled and did not reschedule the evidentiary hearing that had been set for Wednesday and Thursday. Cheektowaga is asking the hotels be forced to submit a new site plan and special use permit because it says they are violating zoning codes functioning as shelters.
The judge wanted DocGo to take part because he believes that decision could effectively evict the migrants living there.