DAVE ROSS

Did Snohomish County waste $12 million on its courthouse drama?

Sep 14, 2015, 2:02 PM | Updated: 2:41 pm

Snohomish has spent $12 million toward plans for a new courthouse that may not happen. The county c...

Snohomish has spent $12 million toward plans for a new courthouse that may not happen. The county council chair said he doesn't understand the actions of the county's executive. (Reader photo/Michael Kvistad)

(Reader photo/Michael Kvistad)

Snohomish County taxpayers have already spent $12 million toward plans for a new courthouse, but now those plans are in limbo.

“Some of the money we spent on architecture, several million we spent on designing a new building that essentially is lost costs,” Snohomish County Council Chairman Dave Somers told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

The county executive recently threatened to move the project out of Everett &#8212 a surprise to Somers.

“We discussed that over the past couple of years and the council has been told time and time again that moving out of Everett is more expensive,” Somers said.

“The courthouse needs to be near the jail and our jail is in downtown Everett,” he said, noting that it would add transportation costs between the jail and the new courthouse.

“Or you have to build a new jail outside Everett,” Somers said. “The executive’s office has told us over the last year that it’s not a feasible plan, but now he’s come back to that and I don’t understand why.”

Snohomish County Executive John Lovick blamed the City of Everett for causing so many delays to construction.

“We stayed on budget and on schedule until the City of Everett started doing the things that they are doing. So we are looking elsewhere,” Lovick said.

The most recent squabble was over parking for the courthouse. Last December, the Everett City Council told the county it needed 300 more parking spaces than its construction plan included. That led to months of back-and-forth between the city and the county, the Everett Herald reports.

So now, the project may come full circle.

“As I see it now, we have two options. We go back to Plan A; we look at a remodel of the old courthouse, but we do an addition with new courtrooms,” Somers said. “The best information we have right now from the executive’s office is that it would cost $108-110 million, not $162 million. That’s my proposal. If we don’t do that, then maybe we really do have to scrap the whole thing and come to it in a couple years.”

Lovick said that a request for proposal has been made to field out-of-Everett courthouse offers. He stressed that despite the failure to build in Everett, the courthouse project is not dead.

Somers isn’t quite sure what the ultimate solution will be, but he did say the $12 million already spent isn’t entirely wasted.

“The properties we acquired across the street &#8212 to meet the new Everett parking requirements &#8212 we need that [space], so it will not be wasted,” he said.

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Did Snohomish County waste $12 million on its courthouse drama?