JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The city spends your taxpayer dollars each year maintaining vacant buildings. Despite the wasted space, one city leader wants to spend millions more to buy another building.
To buy or to lease, that is the question surrounding the Jake Godbold Building located across from City Hall at Duval and Laura streets. Millions of your tax dollars are on the line when city leaders decide what to do with the building.
"It makes no sense at all," said City Councilman Bill Gulliford.
For Gulliford, the decision is simple. It's time to buy. The city is leasing the building from the Police and Fire Pension Fund at a rate of more than $1 million per year.
Gulliford wants the city to fork over $14.2 million in May to buy the building. If not now, he says the price will jump $1.4 million with the next opportunity to purchase it in May 2017. Meanwhile, he says the city is stuck paying 12 percent interest on its lease.
"We're going to make four years of payments with nothing to show for it, except it's going to cost us $1.4 million more," said Gulliford.
The city owns dozens of vacant buildings across town. Action News asked why not renovate a space that we already own?
"You don't have a building you can utilize for the Public Defender's Office, because that's the principal use of that building," said Gulliford.
Gulliford says in addition to the Public Defender's Office, the city is tied to its existing contract. "If we don't buy it, you got go to the terms of the lease agreement with the Police and Fire Pension Fund so you can't go find another building to remodel until you've finished that contract."
Gulliford says by the time the lease is up, which he believes isn't for at least another 10 years, it would have been cheaper to buy the building. He wants to use some of the $9 million on its way to the Downtown Investment Authority. Gulliford projects if it's bought now, the city would not have to borrow money to make the purchase.