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Idaho discovers it's tough to return a mansion

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 12:13 p.m. MDT

Members of the Idaho Governor's Housing Committee listen to public testimony Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Boise, Idaho. The committee, from left to right, includes Rep. Phyllis King, D-Boise, Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Eagle, and Teresa Luna, Director of the Department of Administration. The committee sought public comment as it decides the future of the Idaho's unoccupied governor's mansion.  (Todd Dvorak, Associated Press) Members of the Idaho Governor's Housing Committee listen to public testimony Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Boise, Idaho. The committee, from left to right, includes Rep. Phyllis King, D-Boise, Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Eagle, and Teresa Luna, Director of the Department of Administration. The committee sought public comment as it decides the future of the Idaho's unoccupied governor's mansion. (Todd Dvorak, Associated Press)

BOISE, Idaho — The hilltop mansion was a gift to Idaho from potato magnate J.R. Simplot, meant as a residence befitting the governor.

Instead, it's become a money pit, costing more annually to maintain than the median price of a Boise-area home. What's more, Idaho's current governor won't even live there.

Public outcry was on display this week at a hearing over the house's future, where a majority of those who spoke recommended either selling the place or returning it to Simplot's family.

But as Idaho has discovered, it's easier to take a mansion than it is to give it back: The heirs to the self-made billionaire who died in 2008 at age 99 don't want it.

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