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Civic center’s eminent domain moves forward

Whether or not a sale goes through on a Spruce Street home planned for demolition to host parking for the future Sequim Civic Center remains in the hands of a bank.

City councilors voted unanimously on June 9 to enforce a short sale with eminent domain on the house at 191 W. Spruce St., formerly owned by Steven and Peggy Sutherland of Renton.

City Attorney Craig Ritchie said they voted on eminent domain two years after agreeing upon a sale with the Sutherlands for $89,000. However, the city hasn’t received approval from the Sutherland’s lending institution, City Manager Steve Burkett said.

“(The bank) loaned them more than what it’s worth ($140,000) and we’re trying to get them to approve the short sale,” he said.

Ritchie said with the eminent domain the bank may either close the deal or go into negotiations.

“We’re hoping the financing company signs off,” he said.

The city held a public hearing on the eminent domain on whether or not the site is for public use. No one spoke on it.

If the house is not obtained by the end of the year, project manager David Garlington said, it could delay the project.

Burkett said bringing back subcontractor Dickson Co. of Tacoma to demolish the house would be an added expense.

Updated civic center cost

Burkett issued an updated budget on the civic center cost projection Monday following concerns from councilor Genaveve Starr.

After dating the civic center’s costs back to 2011 at $16,074,200, he’s given an updated cost of $13,810,661 from Jan. 1, 2014, through project’s end in mid-2015.

Previously, Burkett said he recognized some costs that were paid for but not included in past estimates and he wanted to include them.

Included in the increase from 2011, Burkett said, are moving and improving office spaces from the demolished city hall (about $100,000), an increase of $439,000 in sold bonds for the site (from $10 million to $10.439 million), additional revenue from the public safety tax and interest income on bond proceeds (about $275,000 from previous estimates), about $50,000 in unanticipated costs by finding five underground tanks instead of two and accounting issues from previous years worth about $30,000.

Starr, who expressed concern about the project’s budget in May, spoke on behalf of the city’s finance committee about the project which reviewed its proposed costs.

She said the committee confirmed the project will be completed within the budget city councilors approved.

In her statement, she said the original estimated cost of $14 million was an estimate and not tied down and that the $16 million estimate through 2011 is more comprehensive with costs included that inadvertently were omitted.

She said the project is on track and being closely monitored while the city’s consultant Court Olson has negotiated some lower costs.

One increase of $25,000 to ground electric wires was found, she said, but it will save the city money over several years.

Starr said they don’t anticipate any further unexpected costs and that the contingency fund could be used for purchasing art for the center and possibly establishing an emergency operations center.

Burkett said the civic center is being built with little tax impact to the citizens of Sequim.

“The voters approved a 0.1 percent Public Safety Sales Tax that will contribute to the construction of the new police station, but there is no increase in property tax for the project,” he said.

The interest rate on the $10.439 million in bonds is 4.53 percent and its annual debt service is $660,000, Burkett said, and that the debt payments will be paid primarily by the increased sales tax.

Starr’s financial report is available at www.sequimwa.gov.

 

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