Treasurer could save state money with office move

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BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards administration is questioning why Treasurer John Kennedy hasn’t moved his employees to cheaper office space to help the state save money.

Edwards’ chief financial adviser, Jay Dardenne, sent a letter to Kennedy on Friday asking him for more information about 12,000 square feet of office space the treasurer leases for nearly $370,000 a year.

The governor’s office released documents showing the Division of Administration has told Kennedy he could spend about one-fifth that amount — saving the state nearly $294,000 annually — by moving employees to a state-owned building.

But Dardenne said Kennedy hasn’t responded to numerous requests “so that we can determine your spatial needs and identify usable space in state-owned buildings to reduce the aforesaid financial obligation.”

Kennedy has regularly outlined what he considers wasteful state government spending on things like agency contracts. He’s been critical of Edwards for proposing tax increases to plug budget holes, suggesting the state should spend its money more efficiently.

The treasurer disagreed with the estimates of cost reductions from an office move.

“We don’t agree with the savings figures cited by the Division of Administration. However, that’s irrelevant. Even if we can only save $1, we’ll move,” Kennedy said in a statement.

His first assistant, Ron Henson, sent an e-mailed response Monday to Dardenne’s letter, saying the treasurer’s office is willing to move to a state-owned building if enough space is  available to fit its 44 workers.

The lease dispute was first reported by The Advocate.

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