Gov. Tim Walz’s administration is facing criticism after it was revealed that the governor and his family will be temporarily relocating to a luxurious lakeside mansion.
The home being rented with taxpayer money will cost over $17,000 per month. Gov. Walz will live in the Sunfish Lake home for 18 months while the governor’s residence in St. Paul is renovated.
Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River, released a statement Tuesday condemning the expense, calling it “the wrong message to send taxpayers” and “out-of-touch.”
“As Minnesotans struggle with soaring interest rates impacting the housing market, high inflation, and much more, it is incredibly tone-deaf for Gov. Walz to make taxpayers fork over $17,000 a month in rent payments for a palatial lakeside mansion for him and his family,” said Novotny.
Gov. Tim Walz will be temporarily relocating to this $17,000 a month lakeside mansion in Sunfish Lake. It's nearly 8,000 square-feet and sits on 3.5 acres. pic.twitter.com/FTLxrGZskg
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) March 27, 2023
He said there are hundreds of more affordable options that could have saved taxpayers money. With a “simple Google search,” Novotny found a comparably sized property on Lake Phalen that would cost $12,000 less per month.
The Department of Administration asked the public for assistance in finding a temporary home for Walz in January, saying the home must be used for “official ceremonial functions of the state,” as required by state law.
“Additionally, if space was a concern, there are plenty of venues like the Landmark Center or other facilities around St. Paul that could host events for the governor instead of at this home,” Novotny said.
Former Rep. Jeremy Munson also criticized the move and pointed out that the governor’s mansion underwent a $2.6 million renovation in 2013.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, told MPR News that she’s “not surprised it’s an expensive proposition to house the governor in a secure location.” Walz told reporters Wednesday that he would welcome legislative oversight of the issue.
The lease agreement for the Sunfish Lake home spans a duration of 18 months, with an option to renew for 3 additional months. The total lease will cost taxpayers $314,662.
The state will also be required to reimburse the owner $14,919 for carpet replacements, according to the lease.
The renovations to the governor’s mansion are expected to cost up to $6.3 million, including updates to plumbing and security.