AUGUSTA — The state has purchased a former Bangor Savings Bank branch building across the street from the State House to house Gov. Paul LePage’s Office of Policy and Management.

The state purchased the building at 77 Capitol St. with $250,000 from LePage’s contingency account, according the state’s Department of Administration and Financial Services. The contingency account, which is usually used for emergencies, is replenished each fiscal year with an appropriation of $350,000.

The purchase is part of a long-term strategic plan for the state’s needs within the capitol area, according to financial services spokesman David Heidrich. The building is next to a state-owned public parking garage that Heidrich said will likely need to be renovated or replaced within five to 10 years.

The LePage administration also is proposing a resolution that would allow the sale of state-owned property at 108 Sewall St. where the Office of Policy and Management and Board of Tax Appeals are currently located, Heidrich said. The Office of Policy and Management is expected to move into the former bank building in August, after minor renovations are finished.

“All things considered, the acquisition of this parcel is a very prudent move,” Heidrich wrote to the Portland Press Herald. “Given its position adjacent to the Blaine House, the Cross Office Building, and the State Parking Garage, this property holds a long-term strategic value to the state. In particular, the current parking garage will likely need to be removed and completely replaced within the next 10 years. Controlling this parcel will provide the state with maximum flexibility for future planning on the west side campus.”

Heidrich said the state has long held the right of first refusal on the property and was approached by Bangor Savings in March. The bank was asking $375,000 for the property, which includes about a half-acre, but accepted the state’s $250,000 offer. The total assessed value of the property, according to Augusta’s property tax database, is $351,300. Bangor Savings purchased the property from Key Bank of Maine in 2002 for $263,200.

Although the governor’s contingency account is not normally used to purchase real estate, state law does not prohibit it.

LePage spokesman Peter Steele said the building will likely serve as office space for the next decade but the decision to locate the Office of Policy and Management in the building came after it was purchased.

“While the building is well-suited to serve for the next 10 years as office space, the purchase of the old Bangor Savings Bank branch is a prudent investment that will provide the State of Maine – and the governor’s successor – with flexibility as plans evolve for the future of the area around the State House,” he said.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: thisdog