Lake Erie Improvements Bill Turned Into a 90-Page Spending Package with $2 Million in Renovations to the Ohio Governor’s Residence

The Ohio Governor’s Residence in Bexley is set to receive $2 million in renovations on the taxpayer’s dime after the funding was tossed into a catch-all bill passed at the last minute of 2018.

Senate Bill 51 was initially introduced in the Ohio Senate in February 2017 as a piece of legislation focused on facilitating “Lake Erie shoreline improvements.” It didn’t pass the Senate until July 2018, and wasn’t taken up by the House until December.

As it was introduced, the bill was only 14 pages long and was intended to amend two sections of Ohio Revised Code and “authorize the creation of a special improvement district to facilitate Lake Erie shoreline improvement.” By the time it was passed, the bill was 90 pages long, amended eight sections of Ohio Revised Code, offered amendments to 16 different sections of two House bills, and had a final description of:

“Authorize the creation of a special improvement district to facilitate Lake Erie shoreline improvement, to revise other laws governing taxation and public property and otherwise provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs, and to make appropriations.”

Of those appropriations was a $107 million “administrative building fund” under the Department of Administrative Services. That fund included $2 million for renovations to the Governor’s Residence buried on page 58 of the bill.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the renovations could include a $700,000 project to replace a decorative pergola and an attached portico. Other renovations include $300,000 in roof repairs, $130,000 for replacing a heating boiler, another $150,000 for piping, $220,000 to replace elevator controls, and $55,000 for a backup generator.

The Franklin County auditor’s office told The Dispatch that the current market value of the home is $2.725 million, or $725,000 more than the total budget for renovations.

Peter Gunnell, Ohio’s chief facilities officer, said the state is required to maintain the original appearance of the residence since it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Senate Bill 51 also set aside $50 million for renovations to the Rhodes Tower office building, and $8.5 million for the North High building complex.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].







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