9 Investigates: Orange Co. property appraiser's change of heart about costly office space



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County's new property appraiser called the department's 17th floor office "expensive and inconvenient" when he was campaigning. Now he appears to have had a change of heart.

Last summer Channel 9 uncovered that Orange County was spending $100,000-a-month to lease office space on the 17th floor of the SunTrust building.

Rick Singh, who was running for Orange County property appraiser, called it a waste. He promised that if he was elected he would move out of that office.

Now Channel 9 has obtained a letter from Singh praising the luxurious space.
The state requires the property appraiser's office to be in Orlando. Where, in the city, it's located is up to the county.

As to whether $100,000 monthly fee is a fair price, that ultimately comes down to the voters.
On the campaign trail Singh made it an issue

While the Orange County tax collector and property appraiser have called the upper floors of the SunTrust building home since 1995, Singh called into question the $100,000-a-month cost and lack of parking and access. He blamed his opponent for the office's location and cost.

But one week after his swearing in, apparently his perspective from the 17th floor changed.

Eyewitness News uncovered a letter he sent to the county suddenly praising the location, calling it a "good deal" and advocating the county "stay with SunTrust tower."

"I think this is radioactive to say one thing and do another," said WFTV political analyst Rick Foglesong.

Foglesong said many politicians bank on voters not remembering campaign promises. Channel 9's Christopher Heath showed some Orlando residents the Singh campaign ad.

"It's not cool. I'm telling everybody one thing to get elected and doing something else," said Jarell Corley.

"That's the average.  When it comes to campaigns, it's all the average," said Mark Smith.

But Singh doesn't hold all of the county's office space in the SunTrust tower, he shares it with Scott Randolph, the tax collector.

Channel 9 learned that Randolph also sent a letter to the county, on the same day. His letter strikes a much different tone and asks the county to identify unutilized office space.
The county said it has been looking for a better location for the offices but has yet to find one.

When Heath asked Singh for his reaction he was told by Singh's staff that contrary to the letter he sent the office is looking for a new home.