Did Mayor Paul Soglin sneak $300,000 into next year's capital budget for a fancy upgrade to his office?
That rumor made its way to Isthmus this week, prompting speculation that Hizzoner was preparing to deck out his office with plush carpeting, a gold-plated desk, a full bar and hot-tub.
Not quite. There is, in fact, $300,000 set aside in Soglin's proposed $225 million budget for next year to remodel offices on the fourth floor of the City-County Building, where the mayor's office is, along with another $300,000 for remodeling in 2015, according to Jeanne Hoffman, the city's facilities manager.
If approved by the Common Council, the bulk of that money would be used for a remodel of the city attorney's office, across the hallway from the mayor. "There's a very small part of it that is for mayor's office, but the majority is to remodel the city attorney's office," Hoffman says. "Their offices have never been remodeled. I would say they are pretty cramped and just how the office is laid out isn't very efficient."
The City-County Building was built in 1955 and there was an addition constructed in 1985. The mayor's office was last remodeled in 2000.
The remodeling will look at other issues on the fourth floor, including how the city can create more conference room space. "We have a lack of decent sized conference rooms," Hoffman says. "This fourth floor remodeling is looking at how we can better create conference room space. Having a decent meeting space where people can discuss issues is kind of important."
In addition to May, the attorney's office houses 14 assistant attorneys and a legislative policy analyst.
Much of the furniture in the attorney's office is also outdated, Hoffman says. "They're basically working off of very inefficient desks," she says. "You can't efficiently use a desk now that would have been used during the Mad Men era."
Some of the money could also address the mayor's small conference room and waiting area. "There may be a need to reconfigure exactly how people come into the mayor's office."
If that budget item is approved by Common Council, Hoffman envisions the first $300,000 to pay for planning and design and the beginning of construction; and the second installment of $300,000 to finish the work in 2015. It hasn't been determined if or where the attorneys will move during the renovations.
"All of that stuff needs to get worked out," says Hoffman.