Asking the tough questions: Real estate mishap - WNEM TV 5

Asking the tough questions: Real estate mishap

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Back in 2011, officials in Lansing laid out a plan to relocate government employees from leased office space to state-owned buildings.

Recently, the cost-cutting plan was abruptly halted, leaving many to wonder what happened. 

"Here's some opportunity to find some savings and apply it elsewhere," State Rep. Charles Brunner said.

He said the state missed that opportunity.

The state planned on moving roughly 1,000 state employees from buildings the state pays to lease to buildings the state currently owns in Lansing. Brunner said in theory that's a great idea. Unfortunately, the plan came to a halt.

The landlords who currently lease the buildings didn't like the idea, but according to state officials, state employees pushed back even more. They said they liked where they were and didn't want to relocate.

The Constitution Hall/Mason Building project was part of a statewide effort to drastically reduce lease costs by moving state employees into state owned buildings. The future of the project is unclear. The renovations are way over budget.

In the meantime Jarrett Skorup, with the Mackinaw Center said it's insulting to see this kind of wasteful spending when lawmakers are considering a gas tax hike to help pay for road repairs.

"We have the sixth highest tax hike in the country and our instinct is to ask taxpayers to pay more instead of avoiding this kind of spending," Skorup said.

Original estimates put the renovation and reconstruction around $15 million. According to the Detroit Free Press the true cost of the project is $32 million.

The new tenants of the building will be moved from another state-owned building. The state spending could potentially more than double and it doesn't appear there will be any savings for taxpayers.

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