By Wendy Lack
Last week's East Bay Times coverage of the proposed new county administration building was disappointing. Its story on County Supervisors’ approval of a new county administration building in downtown Martinez was incomplete (“Site approved for new administration building,” February 6, 2017).
The Times story failed to mention the fact that the downtown Martinez location provides LESS SPACE for $10 million MORE COST than the Arnold Drive option.
County Supervisors rejected the Arnold Drive location despite the fact it’s a better value for taxpayers because it’s $10 million cheaper and provides more office space at a convenient location with free public parking. The Arnold Drive option is close to the freeway and completely eliminates need for parking meters or construction of a parking structure, which boosts public convenience and easy access.
Selection of the downtown option means residents will pay a higher pricetag AND continue to fight for parking in crowded downtown Martinez, which is a real headache (as anyone who’s had jury duty can attest).
The Supervisors’ comments at its January 31, 2017 meeting made it clear their decision was driven by politics rather than good value. This is ironic because the building discussion followed a county budget report that said:
- County pensions are underfunded by $1.5 billion
- County “revenues are not projected to keep up with expenditures for 2016/17 nor are they projected to do so for 2017/18 and beyond” and
- County finances are ill-equipped to weather the next recession forecast for 2019/20.
County Supervisors blew it by selecting a location that offers less convenience at higher cost. They overlooked that $10 million here, $10 million there . . . "eventually it adds up to real money."