The Beutler administration’s proposal to buy the Experian building will be up for public debate on Monday, and I expect Councilman Jon Camp to put up a pretty good fight against this $8 million purchase.
Or should I say, lease-purchase — sort of like a rent-to-own deal.
So the Beutler administration wants to buy this behemoth of a 355,000-square-foot building in northwest Lincoln, which has been on the market for several years. City officials say the city would save some $500,000 in rent over 15 years and perhaps save some Experian jobs. About 140 people work there, down from a peak of 1,200 in Lincoln and Seward.
Camp says it’s a bad deal. Here’s why:
• There was no public request for proposals for building space (for sale) that is apparently needed by the city.
• The city would lose about $150,000 in annual property taxes being paid by Experian.
• Experian would lease its portion of the building for five years at $180,000 annually, so Camp says they sell the building and get out of maintenance costs for about $30,000 more per year than they were paying in property taxes.
• Camp thinks Experian will be less likely to keep the 142 jobs in Lincoln once it sells the building and only has a five-year lease.
• He also said it’s “rather presumptuous” for the Beutler administration to present the council with legislation to buy the building — complete with borrowing documents and architectural plans, as if it’s a done deal.
• He questions the cost of managing such a large building, when only 54,000 square feet will be used by the city to start.
Camp says the purchase should have been discussed more publicly rather than “behind closed doors.”
“Transparency was to be the hallmark of the Beutler administration,” he said via e-mail.
He says the city could have tried to get better lease arrangements on its existing space, a lower price for the Experian building, or other, cheaper space.
We’ll see if Camp can persuade any of his colleagues to buy into his arguments.