The expansions in the renovated Idaho Capitol are adding to the maintenance costs that need to be covered by the Division of Public Works. The expanded below-ground garden level includes bigger meeting rooms and offices for all legislators.
The added costs of cleaning and maintenance work total $900,000 a year, according to public works administrator Tim Mason. That brings the yearly maintenance costs that elected officials owe, which Mason calls their rent, for work space in the Capitol Mall to $3.06 million. That includes legislators’ space as well as the Supreme Court and executive officers including the governor and attorney general.
Mason said the added $900,000 in rent should come from the state general fund starting in the next budget, for fiscal year 2011. Gov. Otter’s recommendation for the budget lawmakers are currently working on is to pay those added costs out of the Permanent Building Fund.
Mason told a panel of lawmakers Thursday that the state charges less for workspace than surrounding areas in Boise. Public works charges $10.40 per square foot of space. Similar space goes for $15 to $17 in Boise.
Lawmakers said the rent for Capitol space isn’t likely to rise soon. “It’d be like taking money out of your left pocket and putting it into your right pocket,” Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said. Cameron said that’s because general fund money would just shift from one department, such the Legislature, to public works.
“In commercial buildings, the landlord’s trying to make a profit,” Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene. “In our case, we’re not trying to make a profit.”
The renovated Idaho Capitol formally opened on Saturday. Construction costs came in under the $227 million budget.
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