CHARLESTON – For more than three years, the state Public Employee Grievance Board has paid $7,500 per month to state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman to rent its current headquarters near the state Capitol.
Last week, PEGB board members formally approved a plan to move its offices from 1596 Kanawha Blvd. East to the Schoenbaum Center in Charleston’s West Side. The move will save the board nearly $30,000 a year annually in rent.
In addition to the $90,000 annual lease at the current location owned by Workman, PEGB Director James Cox says the board also pays about $12,000 a year for utilities. The lease at the Schoenbaum Center will be $6,021 per month or $72,252 annually.
Since the lease went into effect in 2009, Workman has recused herself from all cases involving the PEGB.
“When I have no further business association with the board, there will no longer be a basis for recusal,” Workman told The West Virginia Record.
Looking at the costs per square foot, the PEGB currently is paying $15.81 per foot now and will pay $13.50 per foot at the new location. But unlike the current offices, the new location costs includes utilities and janitorial services.
Also, the new facility has plenty of free parking, is handicap accessible and has two hearing rooms instead of one.
According to Zillow.com, the current offices are off the market. The website estimates the value of the 4,954 square foot home at $510,102. It estimates a monthly rent payment of $3,850 for the three bedroom, 3.5 bath home. It says the home was built in 1901.
Zillow says the home was purchased by Workman in 2003 for $612,000. But, it also says the estimated value has increased by $13,405 in the last 30 days, and the rent estimate has increased by $530 per month in the last 30 days.
Workman used the building as her law office until 2009 when she rejoined the Supreme Court.
According to Samantha Knapp, communication director for the state Department of Administration, said the primary consideration in the PEGB’s decision to move was cost savings.
She said the first lease for the PEGB’s current location became effective July 1, 2009, at a cost of $42,000 annually, or $3,500 per month. At that time, PEGB was responsible for paying for utilities, snow and ice removal, janitorial services, and more, all of which were not included in the lease amount.
On Jan. 1, 2011, the annual rate increased to $54,000, or $4,500 per month. The following year, a new contract was negotiated. It included roof replacement, repaving and resealing the driveway and parking lot and more. Workman also took over handling snow and ice removal and janitorial services. The annual lease increased to $77,397.60, or $6,449.80 per month.
The final lease, which remains in effect until the PEGB moves, increased to the $90,000 annually or $7,500 per month on Jan. 1, 2016.
That adds up to nearly $750,000 since 2009 paid to Workman.