Friday, December 6, 2013
The Associated Press
AUGUSTA — The state government will save more than $1 million per year in rent and consolidate offices when two agencies move into a newly constructed office building at the edge of Maine's capital.
Kevin Foster, of Skowhegan, Maine, does finishing work on a newly constructed, 105,000 square-foot office building in Augusta, Maine, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. The building, due to be occupied Nov. 1, will save the state more than $1 million in annual lease expenses by consolidating more than 700 state employees under one roof. (AP photo/Glenn Adams)
The building, which is nearing completion in the Central Maine Commerce Center where several other state departments are located, was built by Belmont, N.H.-based Opechee Construction Corp. The structure, valued at just under $10 million, represents new tax dollars for the city of Augusta, a prospect that pleases city officials.
City Manager Bill Bridgeo said that based on current tax rates, the city will receive $17,523 per year in new property taxes.
"It's helpful in a community like Augusta that has so much state property and other tax-exempt property," said Bridgeo, who noted that the city gets no compensation from tax-exempt property owners like the state government.
About 740 employees of the Maine Revenue Service and the Office of Information Technology, whose offices are now spread around more than a half-dozen locations in Augusta, will take occupancy on Nov. 1. The project also will consolidate eight leases into one, said Jennifer Smith, legislative and communications coordinator for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
State documents show that new lease for the Office of Information Technology will be $935,119 per year less than the current figure, and Maine Revenue's will be $152,321 less, for a total of just over $1 million in savings. The new lease agreement is for 20 years.
The transaction reflects a trend that was visible during the administrations of former Govs. Angus King and John Baldacci, who tried to balance state-owned with leased property. Gov. Paul LePage also favors arrangements that help the private sector and taxpayers at the same time, his spokeswoman said.
"It's a good business decision," Adrienne Bennett said of the Opechee lease.
The new building, a four-story, energy-efficient, brick and glass structure, was built almost entirely by Maine workers, state officials said.
"The majority of the trades on the project were local Maine contractors, right down to the flooring," Smith said.
The building occupies an area in front of a sprawling former computer components plant that now houses other state departments, including Public Safety; Labor; Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, as well as private businesses.