Bait & switch on the Harris Building?

I do not have a problem with the public purpose for building the Harris Building, i.e., for Linn County Public Health, Linn County Daycare, and other community uses.

I wonder why the Community Services Building (CSB) was not considered for those public purposes since it is new, modern, and contains about 85,000 square feet of floor space with only about 200 employees. And that 200 employee number will likely shrink in 2018.

I am concerned that:

1> Linn County Board of Supervisors Chairman Brent Oleson indicated the Harris Building would cost $20 million plus in April 2017.

2> On 22 May 2017, OPN Architects said the cost of the Harris Building will be approximately $24 million.

3> In today’s (12/21/2017) Legal Notices in the Gazette, the County is going to take on an obligation of up to $31.5 million for the Harris Building. I suspect if the County asks for up to $31.5M in authority, it will likely become obligated for $31.5M and then some.

4>  On 1/11/2016, the Gazette carried a story indicating the projected cost for the Harris Building was $10 million.  [added at 2:30pm, 12/22/2017]

Is the Board doing a bait & switch on the taxpayers?

On 12 July 2017, after Supervisor John Harris had met with Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn about lease purchase options for the Building, Supervisor Harris said, “The lease purchase option will cost the county more money as compared to the competitive bid process”. Harris voted Nay; Oleson, Rogers, Walker, and Houser voted Aye.

In a short eight months, the cost of the Harris Building has increased from $20 million to $31.5 million. Add $31.5M to our current County bond debt of $24.470M and then add the $40M Conservation bond authority, and the County’s taxpayers could quickly be in obligated to pay back $95.97 million. So we went from zero dollars in obligations on 6/30/2009 to potentially $100 million in obligations in less than ten years. And that’s not including the million plus dollar debt we are going to take on for Prospect Meadows.

It’s a good thing we got that tax cut yesterday. Looks like we will need it in 2018 to pay for the obligations the County is going to incur in the future. Remember these words: Bait & Switch. –Joel D. Miller (NP) – Linn County Auditor

One Response to “Bait & switch on the Harris Building?”

  1. Stop the Board of Supervisors from spending $31.5M without getting your approval first | Says:

    […] Why isn’t the Board asking for your approval to spend $31.5M like they did on the County’s Conversation bond? Why are they skipping the competitive bid process? Why won’t they answer basic questions? Why did the Harris Building’s cost go from $10M to $31.5M in less than two years? […]


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