- Associated Press - Friday, July 18, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Department of Revenue employees will be moving to a new building next year as the state moves forward with plans to leave the 1950s-era Docking State Office Building and eventually tear it down.

The Department for Children and Families also will be moving out of the Docking building by July 2015, said Todd Fertig, a spokesman for the Department of Administration.

Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan told employees in an email earlier this month that the Administration Department had closed a request for public bids to lease office space to the Revenue Department, The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1rmldUc ) reported.

“Ideally, I would like to keep all of us together in one building but given the office space available in Topeka that might not happen,” Jordan wrote.

“I can assure you that we will all be staying in Topeka,” he added, saying the department couldn’t find the expertise and experience available in the Topeka workforce elsewhere.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture finished moving most of its operations to Manhattan last month, leaving only a small staff in Topeka in order to comply with state statute requiring agencies to be headquartered in the capital city.

Under Gov. Sam Brownback, the Administration Department has pushed to demolish the Docking building, which is nearly $100 million behind on maintenance. It also wants to sell several other state office buildings and lease back the space.

Fertig said there is no firm timeline for either department’s move, adding that all of the lease-proposal responses were for buildings within walking distance of the Statehouse.

Jordan told revenue workers that a move isn’t likely before next summer, but he wanted to keep them updated because of deconstruction notice in their current home.

Former revenue secretary Joan Wagnon, now chairwoman of the Kansas Democratic Party, said the Brownback administration appears to be rushing a plan to get rid of the Docking building that hasn’t been approved by the Capital Area Plaza Authority.

“The Brownback administration seems determined to proceed with emptying out and maybe even imploding Docking State Office Building even though the state is on the eve of an election in which administrations could change,” Wagnon said. “The plans that are being discussed in private would substantially change the footprint of the capitol area complex, disrupt operations in the Department of Revenue, and potentially increase operating costs.”


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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