Thurston approves $2M budget for Atrium furniture, fixtures

Commissioners argue on funds’ legal basis

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Voting 2-1, the Thurston Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) awarded yesterday the $2,025,558 contract to Gordon Products Inc, which does business as The Creative Office, for furniture, fixtures and equipment for The Atrium, a building it is renting located at 3000 Pacific Avenue in Olympia.

Assistant County Manager Robin Campbell said the contract's funding would come from Real Estate Excise Tax 1 (REET1).

Commissioner Gary Edwards opposed the motion, saying there is a "fairness issue" on whether REET1 is a valid source of funds to use, adding that the funding only comes from the taxes of citizens living in unincorporated areas.

"The citizens from the unincorporated area end up sharing the burden mainly because the incorporated citizens do not have to participate," said Edwards. "I think that is a fairness issue and a trust issue because these courthouses… are utilized by all citizens of the county."

Commissioners Tye Menser and Carolina Mejia approved the motion. The motion passed as majority of the commissioners voted in favor of it.

Menser dismissed the issue of whether REET1 is a valid source of funds, adding that the argument had "no merit."

"External council confirmed that there is no legal issue," said Menser.

"REET is not a tax from unincorporated residents, it is something that is generated by real estate transactions, and it is specifically a dedicated funding source for facilities," Menser added.

In October 2021, the BOCC approved a seven-year contract to lease The Atrium building to house the county's general government departments and address the growing need for more office space within the Courthouse Complex. In preparation for the transfer, the county is also paying to improve the Atrium to accommodate the new offices.  

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  • Claire

    Why should only those living in unincorporated Thurston County be saddled with this burden? Why not all homeowners in Thurston County? This should be put an a ballot for EVERYONE to vote on. Menser and Mieja are not working for the benefit of ALL County residents. Turn Socialist Menser out to pasture in November, and Mieja next election cycle.

    Thursday, June 23 Report this

  • jimlazar

    The County collects about 70% of its revenues from residents of the urbanized area of the County, but spends about 70% of its budget on services to the unincorporated area.

    The County gets a share of every dollar of sales tax collected in the Cities of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, Rainier, Tenino, and Bucoda. I pay County property tax on my residence in Olympia.

    The County should be funding a portion of police services in the cities, a portion of road repair costs in the cities, and a portion of the cost of parks in the cities. Why should City residents pay for a big part of the cost of the Sheriff's Department, when we ALSO pay for ALL of the costs of the City Police?

    I'm frankly tired to the argument made by some that the County Commissioners should only serve the unincorporated area. We all elect them, we all pay taxes to them, and we should all receive services.

    Thursday, June 23 Report this

  • Madeline_Bishop

    Did Claire even read the article or just wanted an excuse to trash Democrats?

    "REET is not a tax from unincorporated residents, it is something that is generated by real estate transactions, and it is specifically a dedicated funding source for facilities,"

    Thursday, June 23 Report this

  • fyancey

    This whole project of relocating after remodeling and furnishing will just create another building that the County will allow to deteriorate. Just look at the lack of upkeep and preventative maintenance visible at the current county campus. It’s appalling how the County allows these assets that the taxpayers funded to fall into disrepair. Shame.

    Thursday, June 23 Report this