Bringing the Economy Home

Data Show State Used Vacant Governor’s Mansion 42 Times In Three Years

Governor's Housing Committee members Sen. Les Bock and Rep. Phylis King (D-Boise) want to sell the governor's mansion.

Idaho’s never-lived-in governor’s mansion will cost the state about $180,000 to maintain from now until next July.

The state has justified that cost by saying the mansion is frequently used by government departments and the first family.  So, we wanted to know just how often it’s used, and how much rent it brings in on a yearly basis.

The hilltop house was donated to the state by the Simplot family in 2005.  The Idaho Department of Administration has kept track of state agency events at the mansion since 2009.  Since June 19 of that year it has been used for 42 state retreats and meetings.  Those events brought in a total of $6,800 in rental fees over the last three years.

[spreadsheet key=”0AiLU6Cs5LWZIdF9WM1d1Vng5dmpIX29qNm9aY2RQNXc” source=”Idaho Department of Administration” sheet=0 filter=0 paginate=1 sortable=1]

Even though Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and his wife, Lori Otter, don’t live at the house, it’s still considered their official residence.

The governor’s spokesman, Jon Hanian, says his office doesn’t track how many events the two host, but he estimates Gov. Otter uses the residence about once a month for things like cabinet meetings and fundraisers.  The first lady uses the home more often, says Hanian, estimating “several times per month”.

Upkeep of the governor’s mansion is funded by state tax revenue and the income generated from selling the previous governor’s mansion in 1989.

Costs to maintain the more than 7,000 square foot home include a $40,000 electricity budget, $80,000 for grounds maintenance, and $10,000 for security.

Two Boise Democratic lawmakers say it’s time to sell the home.  As a condition of funding upkeep for the coming year, the panel that oversees management of the mansion has agreed to a public meeting in mid-September to discuss whether the state should list it.

We want to hear from you, should the state hold on to the donated home or sell it?


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