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Governor’s mansion likely to be empty next year

Governor’s mansion likely to be empty next year

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
July 24, 2010

Neither of the top two candidates for Idaho governor plan on living in the governor’s mansion, a seldom-used house that costs thousands of dollars each year to maintain.

No Idaho governor has lived in the current governor’s mansion, which was donated to the state by the late J.R. Simplot in 2005.  Both Republican Gov. Butch Otter and Democratic challenger Keith Allred say they wouldn’t move if they win in November.

“He has his ranch in Star, and that’s his home,” said Otter’s spokesman, Jon Hanian.  “(The mansion) is strictly used for state government to do various events, entertaining, philanthropic fundraising, that sort of thing.”

Allred also wouldn’t move into the mansion.  “The family wouldn’t live there,” his spokesman, Shea Andersen, told IdahoReporter.com.  “They’re settled where they are in Eagle.”

There has been talk in the past year of selling the mansion, though the Governor’s Housing Committee has not formally proposed selling the property.

Senate President Pro Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, who sits on the housing committee, said the state would need to find a solution for what to do with the mansion.  “If we just continue doing what we’re going, then we’re going to use up all the money that has been donated to maintain that structure in a matter of about five years,” Geddes said.  “That’s not very sustainable.”

Geddes said he’s discussed the mansion with J.R. Simplot Company officials to see if the company could help reduce the state’s maintenance costs.  Simplot still owns much of the land around the house, which sit atop a hill outside Boise.  “It’s expensive simply because there’s just so much real estate to maintain and water,” Geddes said.

While Otter has said he will abide by any decision from the housing committee on what to do with the mansion, Allred would support selling the house to limit ongoing expenses.

On her website, independent candidate for governor Jana Kemp says about the mansion, “We must get rid of this ongoing cost.”

The housing committee doesn’t have any meetings currently scheduled, though Department of Administration Chief of Staff Teresa Luna said a meeting should happen in late summer or early fall.  Geddes said that the committee could start working on plans this fall so that a decision could be made next year when lawmakers are in session.

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