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Renting office space in Okaloosa County

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:33 PM CDT
OKALOOSA COUNTY  -  Rent for office space is costing Okaloosa County more than a million dollars a year.
Now a task force is looking at ways to cut that cost.
   
The plan is to use county-owned buildings like the former Shalimar courthouse.
   
"Most of the Shalimar Annex has been empty since the county's new courthouse opened last fall. The takeaway from the task force meeting is there is a huge job juggling the requirements of numerous county departments, trying to fit them in this space"
   
Many county offices are currently located in the water and sewer building when it opened, locals nicknamed it the Taj Mahal.
Rent at the Taj, combined with the cost of the tax collector and property appraiser offices at Uptown Station, makes up the bulk of the million plus a year the county spends on office space.

Steve Czonka/FWB "The county has got space available, and we shouldn't be paying rent when we've got space we can move into"

County officials are working on just such a plan.
The Shalimar Annex Task Force is looking at the best ways to use county-owned buildings like the annex and the former Fort Walton Beach hospital, to eliminate the need for rented space.
   
The goal is to have the annex ready by fall of next year, when the lease at Uptown Station  runs out.
The working budget for renovations is six million dollars.
But taxpayer Phil Fernandez says it shouldn't cost millions to save millions.

Phil "How much does a moving company cost? Reporter "I don't know" Phil "That's how much it would cost"
Phil "A brick building is a brick building. A desk is a desk"

Phil "I don't need fancy-schmancy. I just need someone to answer my question or pay my bill or whatever"

"The task force hopes to have something to bring to the county commission by their March 19 meeting."
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