The Orange County Commission is trying to figure out how to stop spending millions of tax dollar to rent offices.
The SunTrust Bank Building in Downtown Orlando not only houses law firms and a bank staff, but it also houses county offices, including those of the property appraiser and tax collector. It cost about $1 million dollars a year to rent out the space. Some have suggested the county should use other taxpayer-owned buildings, or empty structures, which the county could buy and renovate.
"I brought this up when I was first elected, and it was considered heresy that the property appraiser and tax collector move out of the SunTrust Building," said Commissioner Fred Brummer.
The sheriff's office at West Colonial Drive and John Young Parkway is an example of how the county was able to re-purpose an existing building and save money. The county spent $4.5 million to buy what used to be an old Montgomery Ward. Another $4 million or so was spent on renovations.
"We are looking to streamline and be efficient," said Commissioner Scott Boyd. "I think it's a prime opportunity to move out of some of the higher-rent areas."
Over the next four months, staff will assess how to save money on office space. The county says they will keep paying for those offices in the sky at the SunTrust Building, and they will not break the lease. SunTrust has not offered up any deals to get the county to stay, so it appears they will eventually leave when the lease is up in two years.