New Mexico taxpayers are paying $18 million for unused office space

The state of New Mexico pays $18 million annually for unused office space, according to a report by the Legislative Finance Committee released Tuesday. The money is fueled by taxpayers. “They are not dealing with a loss of government. You are dealing with the taxpayer’s dollar. And we want that taxpayer money to be used appropriately in the state of New Mexico,” said Paul Gessing. Gessing is president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a New Mexico taxpayer watchdog group. He says the millions the LFC has used to pay for unused state office space is a state oversight problem. “I realize we are talking about a situation when COVID hit that no one was really prepared for or saw coming. But again, we’re two and a half years later and you must have better solutions than just spending more money,” Gessing said. The LFC report found that idle offices account for telecommuting and 21% of job vacancies. “We felt it across the state. Our citizens are calling us as their representatives and complaining that state agencies, such as the IRS, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Health, have not responded,” said Jim Townsend, minority leader of the New Mexico House. Last month, Townsend sent a letter to the governor asking if 40% of state employees are absent from work, but received no response. The LFC report found that 38% of government employees telecommuted on any given day. “We need our state government employees, who I think the world is all about, in their offices. They were hired to be in their offices and minister to the people of New Mexico. That’s where they need to be,” Townsend said. Townsend believes a plan needs to be developed to make better use of the space and policies need to be readjusted when working from home. “This is taxpayer money being wasted. “People in New Mexico aren’t being served, so it’s a double frustration on their part. They’re paying for something they’re not getting,” Townsend said. The LFC report recommends that the state Personnel Office must establish a system-wide telecommuting policy with criteria for telecommuting and report to lawmakers in January. It also recommends that the General Services Department improve transparency in space planning by providing the public with making room plans available online. We have reached out to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office. In a statement, her office said, in part, “It is important that the state have available office facilities for all government employee positions, and as we transition out of the If the state of the pandemic era continues, we assume that these positions will be filled.”

The state of New Mexico pays $18 million annually for unused office space, according to a report by the Legislative Finance Committee released Tuesday. The money is fueled by taxpayers.

“They are not dealing with a loss of government. You are dealing with the taxpayer’s dollar. And we want that taxpayer money to be used appropriately in the state of New Mexico,” said Paul Gessing.

Gessing is president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a New Mexico taxpayer watchdog group. He says the millions the LFC has used to pay for unused state office space is a state oversight problem.

“I realize we are talking about a situation when COVID hit that no one was really prepared for or saw coming. But again, we’re two and a half years later and you must have better solutions than just spending more money,” Gessing said.

The LFC report found that idle offices account for telecommuting and 21% of job vacancies.

“We felt it across the state. Our citizens are calling us as their representatives and complaining that state agencies, such as the IRS, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Health, have not responded,” said Jim Townsend, minority leader of the New Mexico House.

Last month, Townsend sent a letter to the governor asking if 40% of state employees are absent from work, but received no response.

The LFC report found that 38% of government employees telecommuted on any given day.

“We need our state government employees, who I think the world is all about, in their offices. They were hired to be in their offices and minister to the people of New Mexico. That’s where they need to be,” Townsend said.

Townsend believes a plan needs to be developed to make better use of the space and policies need to be readjusted when working from home.

“It’s wasted tax money. Additionally, the people of New Mexico are not served. So it’s a double frustration on their part. They’re paying for something they’re not getting,” Townsend said.

The LFC report recommends that the state human resources agency adopt a system-wide telecommuting policy with criteria for telecommuting and report to lawmakers in January.

It also recommends that the General Services Department improve transparency in spatial planning by making spatial plans available to the public online.

We reached out to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office about the unused space. In a statement, her office said, in part, “It is important that the state have available office facilities for all government employee positions, and as we continue to emerge from state policy of the pandemic, we anticipate that these offices will be filled.”

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