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On April 29, 2016, the Coos County Budget Committee toured the North Bend Annex and later met in work session to discuss the various options for the future use of the facility. The upshot was that the Board of Commissioners (BOC) were willing to unload what they perceived as a white elephant free to anyone who would take it off their hands.

What a difference three years makes. At this year’s budget meetings the BOC announced that the city of North Bend had offered them $600,000 for the property sans $300,000 credit for the buildings demolition; however the BOC stated their intent was to secure their own appraisal of its worth.

Why this now matters to the BOC, is unlike three years ago; they want to resurrect a massive reshuffling of county offices, and envisions the sale generating enough proceeds to cover the costs, in whole or part. This will probably necessitate the expenditure of well over $1 million.

The reshuffle goes like this. The Sheriff’s Department will relocate into a space in the current jail. The architectural plans three years ago revealed a price tag for the jail remodel at about $1 million. The Planning Department will then move into the Courthouse basement space which the Sheriff now occupies. The BOC, County Counsel and Human Resources would move to the Owen Building now occupied by the Planning Department. Finally the State Courts now in the North Bend Annex would relocate to the area in the Courthouse now occupied by the BOC, County Counsel and HR.

I’m assuming that the costs of all these moves, and associated remodeling to accommodate the new occupants will be borne by the county. State Courts could be different depending on how their current contract with the BOC is drawn.

As to the repositioning itself, the Sheriffs move to the jail makes sense, since in an emergency scenario such as an earthquake, his entire command and control structure could be jeopardized, by the collapse of the structurally inadequate courthouse. The other moves are questionable, and seem to be driven by the BOCs desire to relocate state courts to facilitate the sale of the Annex.

With the county currently in fiscal straits; a looming backlog of infrastructure projects including upgrades to the County 911 system; unfunded deferred maintenance in county departments such as Parks, Solid Waste and property management; its always instructive to observe the dichotomy between public needs and bureaucratic desires.

Steve Scheer

Coos Bay

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