Congress continues to debate the nation's budget. At hand is a 10-year plan that would cut more than a trillion dollars.
Still in the line of fire is the Social Security Administration (SSA), the agency that provides benefits to retired and disabled Americans. SSA's commissioner says if they aren't spared the cuts could mean hundreds of lost jobs across the country, closed offices, and potential changes in benefits.
Knowing how tight money is at the federal level one local company is questioning Social Security spending right here in San Antonio. The agency has decided to move one of its offices from an area near Babcock and Loop 410 to a building off San Pedro near Highway 281. The two locations are just seven miles apart.
"The figures we're talking about are astronomical,” Henry Bonilla, former US Representative, told us.
Henry Bonilla is a consultant for MAGI Realty. Since June of 1985 the Social Security Administration has been one of their tenants. But back in February SSA signed a new lease agreement with another company.
"This one stinks. And we're trying to find out what the root of the problem is,” Bonilla said. “If they're some how justified in spending a gazillion dollars, in this political and fiscal environment, well, ok!"
A gazillion dollars is a bit of an exaggeration, but there is a hefty price tag that comes along with the new move.
The new lease agreement says before moving in Social Security will pay to renovate the building off San Pedro. The cost for improvements is $1,749,169.
But rent is also going up. At the old place, found off Woodcock Drive, SSA was paying $500,249 a year for 30,079 square feet. The new location has 32,369 square feet and Social Security will pay $1,062,089 a year for the first ten years.
"Why would somebody be spending this kind of money when, right now at the federal level especially, they're trimming budgets and people are learning to live within their means. So, what's going on here,” Bonilla questioned.
We reached out to the Social Security Administration to ask about the costs associated with their new move. A representative out of Dallas sent us this response: "This office is hiring more judges and more staff to serve the public. The prior location could not accommodate the need for additional space."
Henry Bonilla has asked the US Appropriations Committee to review Social Security's decision to move and the amount of money they spent for that move.