Some Saint John councillors say it is time to move out of City Hall and into office space owned by the municipality.

The city has been leasing space for the council chambers, planning and other departments since 1971.

Coun. John MacKenzie

Coun. John MacKenzie wants Saint John city council to discuss moving city operations into city-owned buildings. (CBC)

"Everything right now should be on the table," said Coun. John MacKenzie.

"We are paying about $140,000 a month in rent and we've been doing it for the last 40 years."

The city's current lease expires in 2016.

MacKenzie says the city should be looking at renovating space for offices in city-owned buildings, such as the city market tower and the former synagogue. He has put the item on the agenda for discussion at Monday's city council meeting.

"My main goal is 'No more money'," said MacKenzie. "What we're spending now or less — and a short period of time to pay it off and own it.

Saint John City Hall

Saint John has been leasing office space for City Hall and its various departments since 1971. (CBC)

"So we can start taking that $140,000 a month and putting it into roads and programs for our taxpayers."

Coun. Gerry Lowe notes the city owns 80 buildings. He has no problem with putting city departments in various locations.

"If we own these buildings and we have empty space and we're heating them, why wouldn't we move into them?" said Lowe.

Saint John already has a 20 per cent vacancy rate for office space, the highest such rate in the Atlantic region and almost twice the rate in Charlottetown, which has the second highest rate. Vacating the current city hall would likely drive that figure higher in Saint John.