One of Governor Chet Culver’s plans to trim the 2009 state budget involves postponing plans for a new state office building. The decision would affect around 650 state employees that work in the Wallace State Office Building, located on the Capitol Complex in Des Moines.
Culver says many of the workers would stay in the Wallace building, while others would move to rental space. The proposal would save roughly $37 million, which was earmarked for a new building. Employees of the Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Public Safety are currently housed in the Wallace Building, which opened in 1978. The structure features a unique floor plan and distinctive architecture, primarily mirrored exterior siding.
The building has challenged tenants and building managers in recent years with plumbing leaks, mold and a general lack of space. "We have some real space issues here on the Capitol Complex and there are some environmental and structural concerns with the Wallace Building," Culver says, "but we’ve decided that during this tough economic time, we have to find any way to save taxpayer money and this is a common sense approach."
State officials say mold has been removed and other repairs have improved airflow rates in the Wallace Building. Culver says while the building is a now safe place for workers, he hopes it can eventually be demolished and replaced.
Legislators will discuss Culver’s suggestion to postpone plans for a new building during the upcoming session. "It’s not ideal," Culver said of his proposal. "But, I think there will be consensus during this tough economic time that this is the kind of step we’re going to have to take. Perhaps in the future, when we can afford it, we can build a new building. For the immediate future, that’s not an option as far as I’m concerned."
In December, Culver ordered a one-and-a-half percent, across the board cut to the budget in response to declining revenues. The governor has asked state agencies to halt out-of-state travel, freeze most hiring plans and reduce purchases. The state’s public universities are also looking at ways to trim their budgets.