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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