Buyer Beware

February 23rd, 2020 by Ken

By John Drebick

When we vote for additional taxes we are buying something of value as determined by our elected officials.  The current issue is for a “New Courthouse”.  We voters need to be aware of the very expensive plan to relocate the Courthouse to the outskirts of downtown Olympia in an area that has soggy soil conditions which need to be mitigated by expensive procedures and the site having the potential of flooding with sea level rising.  Or such other place the commissioners decide.

The needs of Thurston County residents have been met in the existing buildings over the years since it was built in approximately 1978.  Some space challenges have occurred with lack of courtrooms.  This needs to be fixed but not a brand new courthouse.

The argument being used is that the existing buildings are in bad shape, therefor replace them.

It is better to proceed with a plan to repair and upgrade.

It is suspected we will be asked to pay for a new facility for 25 years with a construction cost of approximately $250 million.  Payable at $0.47 per thousand of assessed valuation ($141) per year.  This includes debt service on the bonds to be issued so the $250 million courthouse is really $428 million.

The cost of upgrading the existing courthouse along with the cost of a new high rise structure at the current site would be substantially less than what is being proposed.  Courtrooms would be built as a part of a parking structure along with support staff and facilities. Perhaps it could have additional floors for leasing out until the county would need them.

The regulatory and administrative staff would remain in the existing building.

The county already owns adjoining real estate appropriately zoned that it can be built on.  They should stop planning and start building,

We do not need a fancy courthouse, just one that provides a safe and healthy environment for county workers to provide the services that the county residents need and are entitled to.

(Editors note:  The above letter has some merit.  I posted it to begin discussion on a new tax prior to the election)

Posted in The Real News

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