April 30, 2016

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Home run

Published 9:46 pm Saturday, March 9, 2013

The former Home Depot building that sits behind Franklin Square stands out because of its bright orange trim, but its looking pretty green these days as the Administrative Office of the Courts prepares to move in.

The move is not only green in the sense it gives new life to a vacant space; it also promises to save taxpayers money in the long run.

Sounds like a win-win decision to us. Besides, were tired of looking at another empty building in Franklin County.

The space will soon be home to about 225 employees of AOC, the agency that oversees Kentuckys court systems.

State officials who toured the building recently with a State Journal reporter and photographer touted its solid construction. Transforming the big-box store into an office building, as it turns out, will take little more than wall studs and new windows.

The projects price tag isnt cheap slightly more than $12 million to purchase the building, renovate it and fill it with furniture.

But consider the long-term savings: AOC pays $1.3 million a year to rent seven office buildings on the east side of Frankfort. In less than 10 years, the agency will come out ahead and save money moving forward.

AOC officials plan to reduce the overall cost even further by paying off the debt faster. The agency bought the 14-acre property on a lease-to-own contract payable over seven years.

The agency also expects to save money by putting multiple departments under one roof and sharing resources.

There are intangible benefits, too. An official said unifying AOC departments would improve employee interaction and provide a better working environment for staff.

About the only downside we see to the deal is that the property will fall off the local tax rolls when the state takes ownership, and the county, city and county schools will no longer generate income from it.

According to the Franklin County Property Valuation Administrator, the structure is worth $4.5 million and generates $55,845 in local taxes based on last years rates.

Of that, $46,440 goes to the county government, $26,820 to county schools and $9,405 to the city government.

Thats a loss local leaders could certainly feel in tight financial times like these, but taxpayer money is taxpayer money no matter where it ends up after it leaves your paycheck.

And when it comes to the old Home Depot renovation, Kentucky taxpayers stand to save a bundle in the long run.

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