Oklahoma state auditor says his team is being kicked out of capitol, it’ll end up costing taxpayers

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector tells NewsChannel 4 he is being kicked out of the state capitol.

Gary Jones said, late Monday afternoon, he was notified his staff has been told to move out of their offices by the end of the next legislative session in May.

Jones said he was told this is part of the capitol renovation project, but he said it is a move that will end up costing Oklahoma taxpayers more than it should.

"They're playing musical offices at the taxpayers expense," Jones said. "They don't think the auditor's office is important enough to be located in the state capitol."

The news was delivered by officials from their neighbor across the hall, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

"We're at a critical junction in the capitol restoration process," said John Estus, OMES spokesperson.

Monday's news is part of the capitol's renovated floor plan, with House and Senate leaders agreeing to offer more space to visitors.

"There's not a dedicated public space in this building right now other than the un-air conditioned, unheated hallways," Estus said. "This was based on the best use of the space in the building."

So, in comes new space, and out goes the state auditor and the Department of Libraries.

Many who work in the auditor's office already work in a separate location outside of the capitol.

The estimated 20 employees who remain in the capitol will need to be moved by the end of May.

Jones said he's not yet sure where they will relocate.

OMES officials said they've offered to work with Jones' office during the move.

"The initial reaction today was pretty emotional, and that’s understandable. Emotions are always high in this building," Estus said. "But, at some point in the future, we’d be happy to try to find a cost effective solution to this challenge."