Sen. J.D. Alexander is the new “Dr. No”

Mar 10, 2009

Sarasota Herald Tribune--March 9, 2009

By Joe Follick

Expect some squirmy state agencies tomorrow when Sen. J.D. Alexander’s Ways and Means committee continues his crusade to pinch pennies with the possible sale of state buildings and ending of leases with more than one million square feet of excess office and warehouse space.

Already Alexander’s angst has killed a plan by Citizens Property Insurance to open a new headquarters in Tallahassee. And months of his public opposition led to the sale of a state airplane.

Now Alexander has his eyes on the state’s cellular phones and office space. Last week, the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability said that “agencies reported having approximately 41,000 wireless communication devices and spending nearly $17 million annually for their operation.” Expect Alexander to push for a statewide contract to bring in all of the myriad independent authorizations for the phones among agencies.

And the committee will also hear a Department of Management Services report on a stunning amount of extra office space the state has.

According to the report, DMS found “over 13,800” records “indicating property where the State of Florida holds some level of ownership interest.”

DMS says five buildings it oversees may be sold for $5.5 million and 64 surplus buildings and parcels of land managed by other agencies may be sold for more than $4.2 million.

In addition, the state has 566 private leases with 1.3 million square feet in potential excess space, including more than 500,000 square feet in Leon County alone.