Encounter Ministries said Wednesday it will wait for a second election to approve a bond financing Pullman’s purchase of its campus on Southeast Crestview Street before trying to sell the property to someone else.
The city will pay the church $5,000 a month for waiting, officials said.
Pullman wants the property for a new city hall, senior center and event center, which, with remodeling expenses and other things, would cost about $10.5 million.
In November, voters were asked to approve a bond sale for that amount and a second bond sale for $2.4 million to improve parks and trails. Both passed, the first with 63.4 percent “yes” votes and the second with 73.7 percent “yes” votes.
But the City Council – and county officials – feared that they received fewer votes overall than were needed to legally validate the election.
In the face of those doubts, the City Council decided Tuesday to hold a special election in February for the bonds. The council authorized the city, in the meantime, to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with Encounter Ministries, contingent on the city obtaining financing in the February election.
With mortgage payments looming, Pastor Craig Adams said, the decision to hold off for another few months could cost the church tens of thousands of dollars in payments to their lender, but it’s worth it.
“This morning we came to the conclusion that we want to love our city, we want our city to have another shot at this,” Adams said. “We’re in for a penny, in for a pound.”
Adams said they were particularly moved by an appeal from Councilwoman Eileen Macoll.
“She talked about the senior citizens and how much the city needs space for them,” Adams said. “That really helped solidify our thinking that we’re going to love our city no matter what.”
Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon said the bonds face fewer stumbling blocks this time around. She said they must still have over 60 percent voter approval, but the turnout requirements are much different. That’s because the first vote was compared to the vote in the 2016 presidential election, while the February vote will be compared to this November’s much smaller voter turnout. This time Pullman only needs to reach 1,550 voters in total to exceed the validation requirement.
“That turnout number is roughly half of the number that voted in favor of the propositions just this past November,” McAloon said Tuesday night.
In November, the city hall proposition got 2,410 “yes” votes, and the parks proposition got 2,783 “yes” votes. There were nearly 3,800 total voters.
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