Proving that House Democrats don’t understand the maxim about “throwing good money after bad,” they have included in their 2015-17 budget proposal an additional $6 million “to help pay for the growing costs of renovating the PacMed Center in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.” According to the Seattle Times, the cost of renovating the building has more than doubled to $54.3 million (from $24 million) since the state leased it for more than 30 years in a controversial deal demanded by Democrat state House Speaker Frank Chopp in 2013.
Two years ago, the state “budgeted $20 million for renovations to prepare the Beacon Hill landmark for hosting Seattle Central College health-care programs and social-service nonprofits.” That figure was expected to rise as work began, according to project managers. However, the costs have now “ballooned higher than anticipated.” The Seattle Times,
“Seattle regulators boosted the price tag by more than $8 million last May when they ordered the 1933 tower to comply with the most recent version of the city energy code — though project managers had hoped to be grandfathered under a less-stringent version. A month later, contractors discovered water damage and mold behind walls.”
Republican lawmakers argue that the project is not worth the rapidly-expanding costs —that show no sign of slowing. The Senate Republican budget includes a provision – that would save millions in taxpayer dollars – which is “intended to cover rent expenses for the building for the next two years.” Under the proposal, the state would “terminate and renegotiate the lease, which requires the state to pay to operate and maintain the building, while charging a base rent of $2.5 million, with an increase of 3 percent each year.”
The PacMed building is meant to be the future location of Seattle Central College’s new Health Education Center and some social service nonprofits. What it has really become is an example of just how much of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars Democrat lawmakers are willing to waste without a second thought if it helps out their special interest allies.
How much to tear it down and build a new one? Probably less than the rising costs.