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Spokane

Courthouse Offices To Stay Put Mccaslin Leads Move To Cancel $1.7 Million Shift Of Some Offices

Cancel the moving vans.

Spokane County commissioners are scaling back - and may ax - plans to move some courthouse offices into a former warehouse.

The project, which commissioners unanimously approved earlier this month, would cost about $1.7 million and allow the county to ease security on the main floor of the courthouse, the destination of most visitors.

Commissioner Kate McCaslin said Tuesday that she regretted voting for the project, and asked her colleagues to reconsider.

Noting “crying needs” at the fairgrounds and county parks, McCaslin suggested that much of the money earmarked for the move be spent at those facilities instead.

“I’ve just asked over and over, ‘Why do we have to do this (move)? Are we bursting at the seams?”’ said McCaslin, who promised during last year’s campaign to cut needless spending.

Not yet, special projects director Gary Fuher said in response to McCaslin’s question.

But, Fuher said, the county probably will outgrow the courthouse within 2-1/2 years, if the growth in government and the county’s population continues at its current pace.

Commissioner John Roskelley argued the county should make the move into the 40,000-square-foot warehouse that once housed Graybar Electric Co.

“In two or three or four years, it’s going to cost a lot more,” Roskelley said. “You’ve got to look at it long term and we’ve got a building sitting empty over there.”

The county acquired that building, at 1033 W. Gardner, in a 1995 land swap with Metropolitan Mortgage Co. In exchange, the county gave up three acres near the courthouse, worth about $1.4 million.

Commissioner Phil Harris suggested Tuesday that the county sell the Graybar building and use the money to build new offices just west of the courthouse. McCaslin ardently opposed building anything new.

In the end, commissioners agreed to rescind the resolution to approve the move, and told Fuher to consider ways to make the best use of existing space for the least amount of money.

“The cheaper the better,” said McCaslin, who earlier in the day questioned spending $1,800 to replace a computer that’s so old its users in the county’s civil service department can’t receive e-mail.

Moving some offices into the Graybar building would allow county officials to move all Superior Court courtrooms to the second, third and fourth floors of the courthouse.

With the ground floor clear of courtrooms - the primary security concern - security stations could be moved to the stairwells between the first and second floors. And the east and south doors of the ground floor could be opened for the first time since 1995.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area around the Spokane County Courthouse



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