Overall we don't think this is a good sign . . .
The stagnating Kansas City office space market propped up by local government doesn't inspire confidence in the so-called "Downtown Renaissance" and the luxurious buy reveals that the courthouse is confident in their supply of cash as the nation's economic future grows more tenuous. For taxpayers, that's a REALLY ominous sign.
Also . . . Moving Westward keeps the county more distant from the vast majority of their constituents who live to the East.
To be fair, here's their side of the story . . .
Jackson County purchases new county administrative offices
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Today, the Jackson County Legislature approved the purchase of a building that will serve as the new location for county administrative offices. A negotiated purchase price of $9,000,000 will acquire the building located at 1300 Washington in the downtown business district.
“The Legislature and my Administration have worked together to dramatically improve Jackson County’s financial position since I took office. By working together, we have been able to dramatically increase our operating reserves, reduce our debt by approximately $100 million and achieve the highest credit-rating in the County’s history,” said Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. “I am proud to say that because of our hard work we can responsibly purchase this building without increasing anyone’s taxes, charging higher fees or taking on any additional debt. As elected officials, we have a responsibility to provide the work environment our associates need and deserve, while also improving the customer service experience for our residents. This building accomplishes those goals and will allow us to tackle the long overdue needs of our historic downtown courthouse. It’s an exciting day for the future of Jackson County.”
Built in 1997, the building is a Class A modern office space encompassing three floors across 82,664 square feet, which provides adequate space for all county departments to function effectively and efficiently. A facility condition and space needs assessment determined an estimated cost of $255 million to address significant deficiencies at the courthouse, including but not limited to, replacing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems, as well as altering the building’s interior use for improved customer service and adequate ADA accessibility. Completing this work requires the relocation of county staff to create the flex space that is needed to do improvements.
Additionally, a recent audit by the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) of Jackson County’s Assessment Department concluded that the department’s current location in the downtown courthouse was originally designed for storage, not office space. “As a result, the retrofit into offices, meeting areas, and storage spaces does not yield sufficient office space for a current assessment program,” the audit stated. This negatively impacts the department’s ability to recruit and retain staff, as well as provide taxpayer assistance.
“Today, I proudly supported the County Executive because it’s the right thing to do,” said Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams, 2nd District At-Large. “This new building is an opportunity for us to do good by our Associates, many of whom have dedicated decades of service to the County in less than favorable conditions. And to me, that is unacceptable. Providing our Associates a first-class, modern space with easier parking and ADA accessibility will only improve the level of customer service we deliver to constituents. It's a win-win and I commend my fellow colleagues who stood with me by voting in favor of this essential investment.”
Additional information on the building at 1300 Washington and the County’s latest credit rating report from Moody’s Investors Service are attached.
Developing . . .