The Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, which oversees the operation of state buildings, has recommended the former Worldcom Building in Clinton as the permanent home for the Department of Revenue, now housed in what's practically a shed, also in Clinton.
Downtown Jackson had been a front-runner for agency HQ, especially after a 2011 report commissioned by then-Gov. Haley Barbour said buying the Landmark Building would be the cheapest option for our cash-strapped state.
The issue has since become politically charged with Speaker Philip Gunn wanting to keep the agency close to his Clinton district.
DFA explains its rational in the following verbatim news release:
MS Department of Finance & Administration Recommends New Location for the MS Department of Revenue
Today, the MS Department of Finance & Administration has determined that, on the basis of receiving the highest evaluation score, the Mississippi Department of Revenue should execute a 20 year lease agreement with Duckworth Realty for the relocation of its offices to the South Pointe Building (the former Worldcom Building) in Clinton, MS. The initial annual cost to the State would be $2,878,000 resulting in a total cost of $41,428,492 (net present value) for the term of the lease agreement. This offer represented the lowest total cost to the State. The proposal submitted by Duckworth for the South Pointe Building includes 187,511 square feet of office space, 600 parking spaces, tenant improvements, security and janitorial services. The lease term would begin July 1, 2014.
Kevin J. Upchurch, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Finance & Administration, stated “We are pleased to have a more permanent solution to the issue of housing the MS Department of Revenue. The selection process was thorough and comprehensive. The main objectives of this process were the cost to the taxpayers, ease of access for citizens, and securing a more permanent, functional facility for MDOR employees. I am satisfied that this location meets all of those objectives.”
On November 1, 2012, DFA issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to obtain new offices for the Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) via a long term lease. A team consisting of three DFA employees and two MDOR employees was assembled to evaluate all proposals based on pre-defined calculations and scoring criteria. The State received six proposals and three were selected for further review. The three finalists were Hertz Investment Group, LLC (The Landmark Building), Ergon (Diversified Technologies Building), and Duckworth Realty (South Pointe Building).
DFA contracted with Allred Architectural Group, P.A. of Ocean Springs, MS to perform test fit analysis, building assessments, and environmental assessments of the three proposed buildings. This review was designed to determine each building’s ability to meet the needs of the MDOR. The review was also designed to identify any deficiencies within the buildings. Based on the results of these analyses, each finalist was asked to the submit a Best and Final Offer in which they were to explain how any noted deficiencies would be addressed, as well as, make any final adjustments to the initial financial offerings.
The Attorney General’s Office has reviewed the RFP process and finds no deviation from the State’s procurement laws or the Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management’s Leasing Manual. Additionally, DFA retained the services of John G. Corlew, Corlew Munford & Smith, to perform an independent evaluation audit of the procedures followed by the DFA in the RFP process. The final review determined that DFA adhered to all of the applicable statutory requirements throughout this process. Further, the review determined that calculations and scoring used to determine the final outcome were correct and strictly followed the evaluation system set forth in the RFP.
Ed Morgan, Commissioner of Revenue, stated “We appreciate that the process used to make this decision was fair and equitable. Great care was taken to make sure that the needs of the citizens of our state and the needs of the Department of Revenue were met in selecting the best location. We are pleased with the results and look forward to moving to our new home.”
The MDOR offices are currently located in privately owned leased space on Springridge Road in Clinton, MS. This lease term ends on June 30, 2014.