State urged to purchase office space


A state advisory committee is recommending that Maryland spend up to $200 million to buy existing offices and erect a new building to consolidate state agencies that rent space in Baltimore.

The recommendations came in an annual report issued to the General Assembly this week by the Capital Debt Affordability Committee. The committee, composed of state officials, suggests a limit each year on how much the state can spend on capital projects, excluding transportation.

While the committee rarely makes specific proposals on how to spend the capital budget, state treasurer Lucille Maurer, one of the group's five members, said the recommendations were designed to help cut the amount of money the state spends annually on rented office space.

The committee this year recommended a capital budget ceiling of $330 million for the fiscal year ending in June 1992.

Committee members, however, said that would not accommodate the $200 million needed to acquire new state office space. For that reason, Maurer said, the committee recommended a separate, one-time sale of general obligation bonds to raise $200 million.

If the legislature approves the bond sale and agrees to acquire new office space, the program could pay for itself through savings on leases within 25 years, Maurer said.

A study prepared for the committee by the Budget and Fiscal Planning and General Services departments looked specifically at buying seven downtown Baltimore office sites.

State officials said a new office building could cost about $91 million.

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