Five years have passed since the state began spending about $800,000 a year to lease two empty floors in Hartford's G. Fox building that were intended to house the state Banking Department.
The department has not moved in, and the rent tab is now up to $4.4 million of taxpayer money.
Three years have passed since the General Assembly, having satisfied itself that the Banking Department move was not happening, approved $6 million to renovate the vacant floors for classroom use by Capital Community College, located in the same building.
Capital, with 7,000 students and in the throes of a space crunch that is hurting its ability to expand education programs - not to mention accommodate its students comfortably - needs the additional room.
It doesn't take a math whiz to calculate that the amount of money frittered away on rent for the unused space is fast approaching the amount that it would cost to renovate it.
Connecticut taxpayers would have saved millions if the State Bond Commission had dispensed the renovation funds right after the legislature approved them. Last month, when it appeared that the Bond Commission was finally about to sign off on the renovation money, the item was pulled suddenly from the commission's agenda. Asked for an explanation, Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office would say only - without elaboration - that panel members had "questions" and that the item would be restored to the agenda.
It is difficult to imagine what lingering questions have yet to be answered and why they could not have been resolved long ago. The one-month delay will cost the state an additional $68,333 in rent. That's enough money to educate 23 full-time students at Capital for a year.
Enough with the foot-dragging.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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