JUNEAU — A legislative committee has hired a consulting firm under a contract capped at $35,000 to analyze the cost to the state for lawmakers to stay in their renovated Anchorage offices, buy the building or move to the state-owned Atwood Building elsewhere downtown.
The contract with San Francisco-based Navigant Consulting was signed Monday, and it was first reported by YourAlaskaLink.com. It comes after nearly a year of debate from lawmakers over the potential move out of the newly renovated Anchorage offices on Fourth Avenue.
After the renovation was completed, the Legislature's annual payments for its leased space jumped to $4 million from $682,000, and some lawmakers say the rent is unaffordable while the state grapples with a massive budget deficit.
Lawmakers on the Legislative Council, a joint House-Senate committee, this month decided to hire Navigant after they received competing financial analyses offered by the renovated building's landlords and by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, the chair of the council.
Navigant's deadline to produce a report is March 14, said Katrina Matheny, Stevens' chief of staff.
Meanwhile, in the public interest lawsuit challenging the Legislature's no-bid lease extension, plaintiff Jim Gottstein on Monday asked that one of the landlords, Mark Pfeffer, be held in contempt of court.
Gottstein says in his filing that the landlords' company, 716 West Fourth Avenue, LLC — of which Pfeffer is the manager — has refused to comply with an order from Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay to produce loan and financial information.
"They just blatantly disobeyed the order," Gottstein said in a phone interview Tuesday.
In a response, an attorney for the building's landlords, Jeffrey Robinson, wrote that Gottstein's motion appeared to be an "abusive litigation tactic." And he argued that the landlords shouldn't have to release additional documents beyond what they've already produced because McKay has already ruled that the developers' personal financial information is irrelevant to the lawsuit.
"There are no documents that are being withheld from this guy that have any relevance," Robinson said in a phone interview. But, he added in an email, Pfeffer and his partners were willing to let the judge review financial documents privately, and if the judge determined they were relevant, the evidence would be provided to Gottstein.