CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Leaders of the House Committee on Government Organization are calling for an investigation into whether the state is paying for any more properties it isn’t actually using.
“We’ve already found one case of the state paying for a lease that was canceled three years ago. How many more will we find when we do a full investigation?” asked Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral.
Controversy has spiraled over the past few weeks because the state paid almost a million dollars total for office suites at Middletown Mall in Fairmont that DHHR vacated in 2015.
The state Auditor’s Office, which caught the mistake and ended the payments this past February, also observed a series of missed chances to stop the payments.
The leaders of the House Committee on Government Organization want a broader investigation of state government’s Real Estate Division.
They want to find out if the state is paying for any more properties it is not using.
Howell, the Government Organization Committee chairman, cited a law passed in 2007 requiring the Division to review the state’s inventory of real estate at least every four years to identify property that’s being used or significantly underused.
“I am calling for an investigation into the Real Estate Division for failing to follow this law,” Howell, R-Mineral, stated in a news release.
“Had they started generating these reports in 2007, we would could have had three property reports submitted by now and it’s possible this Middletown Mall property would have been identified years ago, before Auditor J.B. McCuskey found it.”
He was joined by Delegate Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison, the vice chairman of the Government Organization Committee.
“I wish I could say the Auditor’s discovery of the waste of almost $1 million of taxpayer money was a surprise, but it sadly isn’t,” Hamrick stated.
“Far too often when the Government Organization Committee begins an investigation of a state agency, we find issue upon issue that could have easily been corrected if some complacent bureaucrat would have been doing their job and following the laws already in place instead of setting their own set of standards.”