There’s no room in the state budget for a new Department of Lands office complex in Coeur d’Alene, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t get built.
The department requested $2.25 million to build a new facility on state-owned land near the shared office of Parks and Recreation and Fish and Game on Kathleen Avenue.
Gov. Phil Batt’s budget plan recommended no state funds for the project, but suggested the Lands Department seek a private lease-purchase arrangement. Payments would have to come out of the department’s budget.
“I respect his (Batt’s) decision,” said Ron Litz, bureau chief of forest management for the department. “We know budgets are very tight … we’ll play the cards that are dealt out to us.”
The Department of Lands in Coeur d’Alene is badly in need of a new facility, he said. Its current building, which was built in the 1950s, is “grossly over-crowded,” said Litz. The heating is obsolete, the cooling system is inadequate and the eight one-person offices are jammed with at least three people each.
“We feel that we need an upgrade,” said Litz.
“It seems like everyone agrees to the need for it,” said Rep. Don Pischner, R-Coeur d’Alene. “There was obviously not a meeting of the minds between the governor and the agency.”
Some department workers are spread into two other buildings for lack of space.
It was the department’s hope to consolidate under one roof in a new up-to-date facility, but prospects are uncertain now.
Stan Hamilton, department director, said he’s meeting with budget analysts to try to figure out a way to make the project work.
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