When the federal government wants to get rid of properties, it can often take a while, leaving old government buildings vacant and rotting.
In Northern Kentucky, for example, no one’s lived in the once regal, weather-beaten officers’ homes in Fort Thomas Tower Park for 15 years as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has tried to figure out a way to sell them to the city of Fort Thomas.
Local leaders want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to the massive Internal Revenue Service building in the heart of Covington’s business district. Northern Kentucky’s congressman, Thomas Massie, said he’s confident the federal government will sell the property once it vacates.
“I’m more than hopeful, I’m adamant,” Massie said. “I don’t think there’s a better case than the IRS facility right in the heart of Covington for turning back that government property to private individuals to make a better, higher use than being vacant.”
The IRS wasn’t available for immediate comment.
Massie is in a position to have an influence on this. He sits on two committees that have jurisdiction over federal properties, the House Oversight and Government Reform committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.
Massie toured the IRS processing facility last week with Covington Mayor Joe Meyer. In response to a decrease in paper tax returns as more file taxes online, IRS announced it will close the processing operations in downtown Covington by 2019. That will eliminate 1,800 jobs and leave a 450,000-square-foot, Cold War-era building vacant. The IRS will still maintain some administrative jobs in Covington.
At a recent meeting of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Massie said he has brought the IRS building to the attention of powerful leaders in Washington. He’s talked to both chairmen of the committees in charge of federal properties.
“We’ve got this property here,” Massie said. “If the IRS does not continue to use it, we don’t want it to become one of these poster children that we always bring up in our committee hearings where you have all these campuses with vines growing on them and deer leaping through something that could be put to good use.”
The Lewis County Republican said he’s confident the IRS will move quickly to sell the building after 2019.
“I want to assure you that’s a high priority of mine,” Massie said.
The Covington mayor didn’t return a message seeking comment.
Building the wall
Congress by Friday must pass a spending bill to pay the bills and keep the government running.
Massie on Friday during his visit also addressed his take on whether it will include money for a wall along the Mexican border.
Massie said he’d vote for federal money to pay for the wall, which some estimate could cost $10 billion. But that wouldn’t be the reason he would vote for the spending bill.
If Trump wants money for the wall, however, Massie said he’ll probably have to reconsider the extensive cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and other programs he’s proposed.
“He has to get Democratic votes,” Massie said. “There’s going to be a lot of spending on this bill.”