I-TEAM: Lawmakers question leases and building purchase


Springfield, Ill (WAND) – The state is months late on lease payments for buildings and being evicted from others.  Despite those issues lawmakers want to know why Illinois is leasing certain buildings while exercising an option to purchase another effective July first.

“Why the state is buying a building now during a fiscal crisis is a question that deserves to be answered,” Senator Andy Manar, (D) Bunker Hill, told WAND’s Doug Wolfe.  “Why the state is then leasing other buildings to add three to five times as much for what it would have cost to purchase them is another question that still has to be answered by the Rauner Administration and we’re going to keep asking questions until we get the answers.”

On Thursday of this week the legislature passed a resolution calling on the state auditor general to investigate a lease involving an old furniture store in Springfield.  Documents were moved from the old Dwight Correctional Center, where they were being stored for free, because of deteriorating conditions at the former prison.  Those records and filing cabinets were then moved to the furniture store which was purchased last year by a private owner for $750,000.  It was leased to the state for 5 years for $2.4 million.

The building being purchased is occupied by the Illinois EPA at 1021 N. Grand Avenue East in Springfield.  Acting CMS Director Mike Hoffman told lawmakers recently the state will become owners of the structure July 1, 2017.  It’s the same day Illinois will lose spending authority due to the lack of a budget.

In a letter to state senators CMS says it began the purchase of the building April 1, 1996, stating:

Over the past 20 years, the State of Illinois has made regular payments on this contract, which terminates on June 30, 2017 and at which point the State of Illinois will become the owner of the property.  The State took no proactive actions or made any additional payments to acquire the property.

The Illinois Comptroller has stopped payments on leases.  Senator Manar says he anticipates additional hearings this summer concerning the leasing of state buildings.   

Current Conditions