Dear Editor; When the County announced plans to build a Justice Center in the Rockwood area I was excited. The blighted Rockwood area needed this to help curb the problems the area has. The County Sheriff office would move into Rockwood and the old well worn office on 122nd would be sold. This was a win win for everyone.
Then the County looked at the plans to build the center and they were incomplete. The cost of the Justice Center increased. Fuel costs also started to increase and the Justice Center's price tag continued to grow. While it looked like the plans to build this Justice Center would be mothballed, Commissioner Lonnie Roberts (of East County) insisted the Justice Center be built because the County Commissioners had voted to build it. If this were a business it would have been mothballed. Look at the $3 million plant on Glisan and 242nd — when the bottom fell out of the product they were going to make, they mothballed it. I think Lonnie has done a lot for East County, but the Justice Center just does not make sense when the County is facing a $35 million shortfall.
Look at the price tag for the Justice Center: Plan A: $41 million the County would have to borrow and pay interest on; Plan B: over $42 million and it does not include the Sheriff's Office (this would mean that the County would have to borrow more money as the current County Sheriff's Office would not be sold); Plan C: build a new courthouse at over $25 million, again borrowing and having to pay interest. Plans B and C should not even be called a Justice Center as they do not include the Sheriff's office; they should be called Multnomah County Courthouse.
The citizens of Gresham should be outraged. Not only does the county want to use county tax monies to build the Justice Center, the county wants Gresham residents to use city taxes to help build the Justice Center. Citizens of Gresham, you are being asked to pay twice to build the Justice Center — up to $9.6 million that your city does not have. Let your city administrator and mayor know you do not approve of this.
With a budget shortfall the county should be using its funding to maintain basic services. The county should not be spending money they don't have hoping things will turn around (sounds like another Wapato). If I knew that my income would be less in the future, I would not be spending money I did not have. Gresham has a fine courthouse. Yes, they need a new one; now is not the time to build it. The sheriff says with $4 million he can make the current office work. County Commissioners, do the right thing: mothball the Justice Center until you can fix the $35 million short fall. Don't spend money you don't have just to put a feather in someone's hat.
John Wilson, Troutdale