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Your Taxes at Work . . . Decking Out Executive Offices

Today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the Veterans Administration has spent $1 million to “deck out” new executive office space. Specifically, the newspaper writes:

“Taxpayers paid nearly $1 million to customize upscale office space on the North Shore for top Veterans Affairs executives, records obtained by the Tribune-Review show.

“The VA's five-year lease for 10,000 square feet on the fourth floor of the Del Monte Building — plus another 1,000 square feet added last year for an expansion that included a shower room — charges upwards of 40 percent more than the average price for prime Pittsburgh office space.”

Other relevant details provided in the newspaper’s reporting include the following:

“The delivery in March of a Bowflex exercise bench at the VA facility in Aspinwall — intended for a gym at the new offices on the Allegheny riverfront — tipped off VA employees about what was happening on the North Shore and upset some.

[ . . . ]

“Advertisements for space in the Del Monte Building call it "Pittsburgh's highest quality Class A office space." Its developers described the building in a recent report to city planners as prime real estate where tenants can enjoy "the riverfront and stunning views."

“The initial five-year lease with Continental/North Shore LP, effective Oct. 1, 2008, shows the VA agreed to base monthly rent of $26,925, but in June 2009 the agreement was amended to include the additional 1,000 square feet, boosting the monthly tab to $29,617.50. That puts the annual cost per square foot at $32.31.

“By comparison, data compiled by Grubb & Ellis and Cushman & Wakefield, two of Pittsburgh's major office rental firms, show the average price for prime Pittsburgh office space is $22.52 to $25.24 per square foot.”

Perhaps the VA bureaucrats should have been thinking like Joseph Backers. According to the Tribune-Review:

"Joseph Backers, a volunteer at the VA's Highland Drive facility that is slated for closing, said the fitness room for executives was particularly galling because the agency recently closed a pool and athletic facilities that disabled veterans used.

"How do you justify shutting down a pool for veterans when you are providing athletic equipment for executives?" he asked."

Guess the VA bureaucrats earning those $150,000 salaries originally reported by USA Today and reported here by Federal Times thought they needed to improve their lifestyles.

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