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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 6, 2007 10:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was Drop it anywhere. The next post in this blog is One of life's annoyances. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Take it to the limit one more time

Back when we were writing our series on the public debt of the City of Portland, we took a brief look at the debt that Multnomah County has taken on over the years. Compared to the crazy spendthrifts in Portland city government, the folks at the county appeared to have been acting with restraint.

That may be changing.

Over the transom yesterday came an envelope addressed to us, with no return address. In it, we found this:

The entire two-page document is here. It's a proposed county commission resolution that looks as though it's going to be passed this week. It jacks up the limit on debt that the county can take on from one that requires an "annual payment" of 5 percent of the county's annual "general fund budgeted revenues" to a debt that requires 7 percent of those revenues to pay.

That's a 40 percent boost in the debt limit.

Why go to the credit cards so heavily? According to the "whereas'es," the county needs the cash to buy the Lincoln Building, a new assessment and taxation "system," and maybe the Columbia Pacific Plaza Building.

More bonds, more debt. Look your kids in the eye. If they keep living here, they'll be paying for our spending for a long time.

Comments (11)

Another reason we moved. They just keep adding up. Vera,Hale's,Water rates, sewer rates, taxes,Fracisconi,Stenn, traffic, congestion, density, condo's, bicycles,skateboards and nutty people who vote for more of everything and everyone.

I think this will be attempt number 2 for purchasing the Lincoln Building. I believe the first attempt to buy was at ~$40 million. The fact that they're asking to bump the debt limit makes me think they're considering a much higher number.

WWire has more on this story, including the interesting purchase for $11+ million two years ago and the resale to the County in the $44 million range proposed today.
http://wweek.com/wwire/?p=9900

stupid Nimrods. I'm glad that I moved my business and myself down to Salem. How asinine - and they expect that to be a livable city?

Happy every time I read this crap since I moved to good ole Canby in Clackamas County.

Did these idiots train under VeraSam?

Jack - IF we purchased the Lincoln Building we would have the ability to consolidate three downtown County facilities into one (putting two back into the private sector and back on the tax rolls). We would also be getting out of two Tier 3 Buildings (high maintenance costs and in need of significant capital upgrades) and consolidate in one Tier 1 building (lower maintenance). It would reduce operating costs and improve our productivity, especially in our health clinic space. The $33,000,000 we will spend in rent at the Lincoln Building over the next 15 years would instead go into equity rather than be expensed. We may or may not have to increase our debt limit if we do this - that is still an outstanding issue that must be resolved, but I want to be upfront about it.

Columbia Pacific Plaza is our Parole and Probation office - these are notoriously difficult operations to locate in the community. (Do you want it in your neighborhood?)The landlord wants us out, or he wants us to buy the building. This is a very difficult operation to relocate. If any of your readers are in commercial real estate and are willing to house the County Parole and Probation function, have them contact me. Regards, Ted Wheeler.

Ted,

"IF" is big.
Suppose you do consolidate three downtown County facilities into one. I can only imagine that endevour will be far more expensive than neccessary but the idea that you'll be "putting two back into the private sector and back on the tax rolls" has me very skeptical and supicious.

Why? Because I must believe when it comes time to "put two building back into the private sector, the PDC will step up to the plate with some public/private Portland politically correct scheme to essentially give away the buildings.
I can't imagine any local jurisdiction placing two buildings on the market, list for sale and get market value. And that's it. I can see the UR model coming into play with historic tax abatements to follow.
You should work out an arrangement with Portland to house your Parole and Probation office in some of their vacant space. Portland is notorious for leasing private building space while they have their own vacancies in thier public buildings so you'll be able to work them over for a good deal.

I think it's fantastic that you are willing to openingly post on this blog.

You appear to be genuine.
Well done and good luck with your agenda.

Steve - thanks - the plan plainly and simply would be to list the other two buildings with a commercial broker and sell them for the highest price we can get to reduce the overall cost of the total transaction. Regards, Ted

First of all thanks Ted for being so gutsy and answering in Jack's blog.

The thing that bothered me about the deal was this is in the same neck of the woods that PDC was paying a developer to take a building off their hands, and this building was sold to Unico two years ago for $11 million, now the price is four times that and according to WW this does not include tenant improvements that will bring the cost up even more. http://wweek.com/editorial/3352/9927/


I think your reasoning is sound about consolidating near public transportation, in an area where there are a lot of shelters nearby. I agree there is a long term advantage of owning equity for the County instead of paying rent.

But when property inflates that much trading hands from private to public sector use, thought the county may benefit it also raises the question of who else benefits and to what extent which I don't think is an unfair question.

Swimmer - point well taken. One thing is clear - the current owners of the building pulled off a great deal on the buy side - two years ago they paid only $11 million for a building that is now appraised (independently) at over $40 million. Not much we can do about that, but I agree it will raise eyebrows...Here's a bit of breaking news - the Board agreed today to delay a final vote on this until December so that we can get some of these issues out on the table for the public to evaluate and digest.


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