Lease review complete, process predates Chafee
Updated: Sunday, January 1st, 2012 | By C. Eugene Emery Jr.
Gov. Chafee's review of the commercial office space leased by the state -- an attempt to save money by relocating state facilities to state-owned property instead of paying for commercial property -- is complete.
Ronald Renaud, executive director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration said an initial review was finished earlier in the year and "we're constantly looking at leases when leases come up for renewal."
Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said that when the governor took office, he "discovered that such a review of the leases had already begun under the previous administration," and plans were already being made to move two state agencies.
Both are scheduled to be completed by next month.
The first is the relocation of the General Treasurer's offices from 40 Fountain Street to a building purchased in 2010 by the state for a computer center at 50 Service Ave., in Warwick. (Treasurer Gina Raimondo also has an office in the State House.)
The other is the move of offices for the Department of Children, Youth and Families from Ten Rod Road in North Kingstown to the Oliver Stedman Government Center, 4808 Tower Hill Road, in South Kingstown.
Renaud said moving costs will eat up most of the projected savings in the current fiscal year, but in future years the relocation of the treasurer's office should save $521,000 per year. The DCYF location should save about $300,000 annually.
"There don't appear to be more immediate opportunities to achieve savings for a couple of reasons," said Hunsinger. "Some of these places are regional sites designed to better serve clientele, so you wouldn't move them anyway."
Another reason is that "right now there is not a good inventory of state-owned buildings that can be occupied without having to pump a ton of money into them to make them usable," she said.
One example is the buildings at the John O. Pastore Center in Cranston (formerly the Howard Complex). "At Pastore, I'm probably at 90 percent occupied with usable space," said Renaud, who agreed that the vacant buildings there would need extensive renovations.
"The analysis will be ongoing," said Hunsinger. "But right now we're where we need to be."
Chafee, during the campaign, didn't vow to actually move anyone. He only pledged to review the leases held by the state.
By that measure we rate this a Promise Kept.
Interviews, Ronald Renaud, executive director, Rhode Island Department of Administration, and Christine Hunsinger, spokeswoman, Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Dec. 7, 2011.
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