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City mulls justice center funds.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - The proverbial "magic pot of money" has appeared, helping city officials balance a tentative construction budget for a new downtown public-safety complex.

During a work session Monday, Springfield city councilors voiced no objection to a plan that would use $1 million in interest earnings from bond sales to help pay for the justice center project. Voters approved a $28.6 million bond measure in 2004 to finance construction of the facility.

Councilors will vote formally next Monday on the issue of using bond interest earnings for the project. If approved, the overall construction budget will rise to $29.6 million.

The need to increase the budget was prompted last month by a preliminary estimate that showed the justice center would cost about $30.8 million to build.

Consultants and city officials worked to trim more than $1.2 million from the estimated budget, mainly by planning to use less expensive construction materials and simplifying the design of an ancillary building designed to store police evidence.

City Finance Director Bob Duey suggested project officials use $1 million in bond interest earnings to bridge the funding gap. If the City Council approves that action next week, the project will have a surplus of nearly $73,000. That money could come in handy down the road, because cost estimates could change slightly when a revised budget estimate is completed in September, city project manager Carole Knapel said.

Construction of the justice center is scheduled to begin in April. The facility will include a new police station and municipal court building, which should be completed by August 2008.

The project's second phase would focus on construction of a 100-bed municipal jail, designed to house misdemeanor-level offenders. But the city lockup is unlikely to be built unless Springfield voters in November approve a new tax to finance operations of the jail. If the tax measure is endorsed, the jail is expected be up and running by 2010.

The public-safety complex is designed to cover nearly two city blocks bordered by Pioneer Parkway to the west, A Street to the south, Fourth Street to the east and an alley between B and C streets to the north.

The city's plan calls for the closure of B Street between Pioneer Parkway and Fourth Street, although the City Council will not formally approve vacating the street until later this year. When that happens, Springfield resident Scott Olson says he will ask the state Land Use Board of Appeals to overturn the council's decision. Olson is a member of a council-appointed volunteer committee whose job it is to advise councilors on the justice center's design and relationship to surrounding neighborhoods. He claims that by closing B Street, city officials would make a decision that runs counter to several policies and goals in the Eugene-Springfield Transportation System Plan - part of the metro area's long-range development plan.

City councilors said they approved a site plan for the justice center that involves closing B Street to make room for a secure parking area for police vehicles and the ancillary building because it was less expensive than other design options drafted by project consultants.
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Title Annotation:Government; The Springfield council is set to approve using $1 million in interest earnings from bond sales to help finance the project
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 11, 2006
Words:527
Previous Article:November vote OK'd on county income tax.
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