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County did not analyze costs
Despite labeling one choice as the cheapest option of seven, Union County commissioners did not analyze cost differences among alternative options for siting a new courthouse, according to testimony heard in court Wednesday.
In advance of the unanimous March decision to site the new courthouse on the footprint of nonprofit Shelter From the Storm, commissioners laid out seven possible alternatives in a document that said siting the courthouse where SFS currently sits was the cheapest option.
Commissioner Bill Rosholt testified this week, however, that the county did not compare potential costs among those choices.
“We have no written numbers,” Rosholt said.
One option listed on the county document considered demolishing the Joseph Building Annex, thus saving the SFS building. That option was scrapped, Rosholt said, amid concerns of asbestos in the building that would make it more expensive to raze. When pressed, the commissioner said, “I don’t have any idea” what that cost would have been.
“Common sense dictated the direction we went in,” Rosholt said.
During the hearing, visiting Judge Eva Temple of Hermiston heard from six witnesses in the matter. The hearing came just days before the shelter is expected to be evicted from its location on the county campus. On April 1, the county formally notified the shelter that it must be out by Labor Day to facilitate the construction of a new courthouse, for which the county has been allocated an unprecedented $2 million in funding from the state.