BOISE -- After much consideration and public input, the State is giving the Governor's mansion back to the Simplot family.
At a hearing in October, Idahoans voiced their thoughts on the vacant Governor's mansion on Simplot Hill. Many of those folks were concerned about the amount of money being spent on upkeep for a house no one lives in.
We were spending about $170,000 a year just to keep the house going. About $120,000 of that is just to keep the lawn going, watered, and the electricity for the pump, to pump the water up on the lawn, said Representative Phylis King, a member of the Governor's Housing Committee.
I've been on the committee the longest of all the members and I've been on since about 2007 or 2008, and I could see that we were spending a lot of money, no one wanted to live there, said King. So we were spending a lot of money for not much return.
Representative King said she's been in favor of giving the mansion back to the Simplot family for the last few years. Friday, the rest of the committee agreed, the mansion will be given back to the Simplot family.
I want to thank the Simplots for their generous donation it just didn't work out, the timing wasn't very good, said King.
Now the committee has to figure out what to do about housing for the governor.
I think what we'll do is probably give him a stipend. And even at $4,000 a month, that's $48,000 a year but that's a lot less than the $170,000 we were spending on the mansion.
They'll also have to decide whether to use a piece of land donated by the Bureau of Land Management for a new Governor's mansion. That land, near Fort Boise, is to be specifically used for a Governor's mansion, or it has to be returned to the BLM. Alternatively, they could decide not to have an official residence for the Governor, and provide a stipend instead.
King said the state spent $300,000 fixing up and furnishing the mansion. She said the $200,000 worth of furnishings will still be property of the state.
The Simplot's spokesperson said they are aware of the resolution, but would not comment further.