Report: Almost $439K spent on Ohio gov's mansion

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) / WNWO File Photo

Ohio taxpayers paid more than $438,000 to staff, maintain and repair the official governor's residence this year, although Gov. John Kasich doesn't live there, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The $438,720 was spent on items including fixing the mansion's roof and maintaining cable service for TVs in the official residence in the Columbus suburb of Bexley, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The Republican governor and his family chose to stay at their home near the Columbus suburb of Westerville.

The state provides security there at an undisclosed cost, which the state Highway Patrol said was comparable to what the cost would be if Kasich were living at the mansion, the newspaper reported.

Ohio spent $448,177 for former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to live at the mansion in his first year in office in 2007.

That sum would be $488,968 today if adjusted for inflation, according to the Kasich administration.

"We're glad to be saving taxpayers money, $50,000 in savings when Strickland's first year is adjusted for inflation," Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said.

The state-owned Governor's Residence and Heritage Gardens are on the National Register of Historic Places and must be maintained by the state, Nichols said. Kasich, who wanted to stay in his home so his daughters could be closer to their school, spent the night at the state-provided mansion at least once this year.

His wife and twin 11-year-old daughters stayed there more frequently, and first lady Karen Kasich keeps her office there, Nichols said.

The governor also uses the estate for meetings and receptions for out-of-state groups.

A 2011 year-in-review document showed that 5,200 people attended events there this year and 1,500 visitors toured the property, the newspaper reported.

Kasich is only the second governor not to live in the residence, which became the official home of Ohio governors in 1957.

Republican James Rhodes lived there during his first two terms, 1963-71, but stayed in his private home during his second two terms, 1975-83.

The Kasich administration spent $224,631 for a manager, housekeeper, groundskeeper and part-time curator for the residence, while Strickland spent $274,891 for an undisclosed number of residence staff in 2007, according to state documents.

The Kasich administration also spent about $25,000 on a major roof repair to prevent water damage, Nichols said.

Overall, a total of $207,309 went for a line item called "Supplies, Materials and Minor Expenditures," that included the roof repair, utilities and an assessment fee included for all state buildings, Nichols said.

Strickland spent $168,298 for the same line item in 2007, but his costs were lower partly because prison inmates performed some of the work.

The prison-labor program was halted last year after an aborted contraband drop at the residence and incidents of inmates drinking on the job.

Kasich also spent $6,780 on third-party contracts for work at the mansion that Nichols said included elevator repairs, pest control and cable TV.

That compared with $1,411 spent by Strickland, the newspaper reported.