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June 09, 2016

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Brian, you didn't stay to the end of the hearing. The new study is not to determine whether earthquake retrofitting is necessary, but how much it will cost. The city presentation on our bond indebtedness given after you left was very informative. Unfortunately, it proved that we can't spend this excessive amount for the police station and then more for something else
without significantly pushing up people's property taxes, something that the city says it wants to avoid. So your conclusion that nothing will actually be done toward earthquake preparedness is probably correct. 😫

Mary Ann, I believe your comment was submitted after I'd mistakenly (and briefly) published an incomplete version of this blog post when I meant to click on "save draft." So you weren't able to read the end of the post.

I did leave the meeting shortly after I testified, but today I watched the rest of the meeting via the CCTV recording.

I realize that the motion passed by the City Council last night is aimed at getting cost estimates for seismically retrofitting buildings owned by the City of Salem. My disparaging "whoopee" reaction to this stems from several facts:

(1) Engineering studies of the seismic condition of City Hall and the Library already exist.
(2) City staff already have provided a recent estimate of the cost to seismically retrofit City Hall and the Library: $26.6 million
(3) That $26.6 million figure seems to be a pretty accurate updating of the costs calculated in the 2011 City Hall and 2014 Library engineering studies.
(4) If the $26.6 million is a bit of an underestimate, an earthquake-safety bond could include some contingency funds, as is being done with the $83 million police facility bond.

So I see little or no reason why seismic upgrades to City Hall and the Library couldn't have been included in the Public Safety bond that will be presented to voters in November. This isn't happening, because the Mayor and City Councilors are so attached to the over-sized and over-priced $83 million police facility plan, which has squeezed out money for seismic upgrades that used to be part of a proposed Public Safety bond.

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