The state Treasurer’s Office has sent word to the Division of Administration that it is “pleased to move” out of the One City Plaza office building, if the state has cheaper space available.
As The Advocate reported this weekend, the division has spent more than a year trying to get information from State Treasurer John Kennedy’s office about space that it leases in the downtown Baton Rouge building and whether the agency could save money by moving those services into state-owned space.
On Monday, First Assistant Treasurer Ron Henson notified the Division of Administration that the Treasurer’s Office “would relinquish the remainder of leased space as soon as other space in state-owned buildings was identified,” noting that the office would need space for 44 people and the ability to maintain its own email system.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, in a letter to the Treasurer’s Office on Friday, asked that information be “immediately” provided about the lease. “(We) anticipate space being available in the Capitol Annex when the Department of Economic Development moves to both the LaSalle and Iberville buildings this summer,” Dardenne wrote.
According to the Division of Administration, the treasurer is renting 11,954 square feet of office space in One City Plaza that costs $369,597 a year. Following
The Advocate’s report based on those documents, Kennedy’s office has claimed that the annual cost “is less than that” but has not provided specifics. The Treasurer’s Office also has since said that the actual space is 10,080 square feet. The Division of Administration estimated in 2014 that a move to unoccupied, cheaper, state-owned space would have saved about $293,858 a year.
“We don’t agree with the savings figures cited by the Division of Administration. However, that’s irrelevant. Even if we can only save $1, we’ll move,” Kennedy said in a statement Monday.
Kennedy, who is running for U.S. Senate this fall, has been a vocal advocate of reining in wasteful state government contracts. He’s frequently sparred with the Edwards’ administration as legislators look for ways to fill the $900 million budget gap.
The One City Plaza lease is up in August, but the state has the option to terminate it in 120 days if state-owned space becomes available.
In October 2014, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration first sent word to the Treasurer’s Office that it was looking to fill vacant space in the Capitol Complex and that the offices in One City Plaza had been targeted as possibly movable. The administration continued following up, requesting for several months that the office complete an eight-page questionnaire about its space needs to determine how efficient the One City Plaza space was.
Henson ended his note Monday promising that document would be returned “shortly.”
Dardenne also requested that Kennedy, who serves as president of the Louisiana Asset Management Pool, a private entity that works with local governments, push for the corporation to consider moving to available state space at Benson Towers in New Orleans or to space in downtown Baton Rouge that the state owns.
Henson, in his letter to Dardenne on Monday, said that Kennedy will consider the prospect and put LAMP in touch with the Division of Administration.