Brynn Grimley writes:
In case you missed it, the story I wrote for Sunday’s paper on the Norm Dicks Government Center included some new information regarding the move of the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (now known as Housing Kitsap).
I called Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent to ask her about the government center and before I even got the chance to ask if the city had any plans to expand within the building, she let me know that since becoming mayor seven months ago she’s been eying the vacant KCCHA space on the ground floor.
Lent does not believe that KCCHA should be located in the building. It’s not that she doesn’t want them as a neighbor, but she believes based on the agency’s mission to serve families in Kitsap (except for in the city of Bremerton), they don’t need a presence in a city where they don’t have any clients.
“It’s inappropriate,” she said. “This is not the location for the consolidated housing authority.”
Lent believes the city could save money by consolidating services — including moving some into the government center. Fire and police services would remain in their respective locations, she said. Specifically for the KCCHA space within the building, Lent thinks the city could look to move its utility billing department from its current location into the 4,389 square foot ground floor space.
The move would place the city’s billing departments under one roof, making it more efficient for city taxpayers to “pay for everything in one place,” Lent said.
The city could also potentially merge its engineers at its Olympus Drive building with Public Works staff into one building to save money, she said.
But of course, it all comes down to money. And no one has it right now.
Negotiations are ongoing between KCCHA and the city — but Lent said the economy limits the city’s ability to finance a move right now. But, if a deal is reached the city could take the space off the books for KCCHA, freeing them up to move into a location that would house all their services at a cheaper price than what they’d pay to be in the government center.
A week ago county commissioners voted to request KCCHA vacate its Silverdale location in 60 days. But the building is owned by KCCHA, not the county, according to KCCHA executive director Tony Caldwell. So, does the county have legal authority to force the move into the government center?
Caldwell doesn’t know, and says it’s not up to him to make a decision — that falls under the direction of KCCHA’s board of commissioners. Caldwell will present the housing commissioners with the letter at their next meeting. KCCHA’s board will then decide how to respond to the county commissioners. (My question: Will the county commissioners abstain from this discussion because they sent the letter?)
Now we’re back where we started. Four KCCHA commissioners who support keeping the agency out of Bremerton, and three commissioners who want to see the move take place to reduce overhead costs.
And now a possible twist. I received a copy of the letter the county sent to Caldwell. One line caught my eye: “Under Section 4.1(10) of the (tri-party) Agreement, the County also has the right to take fee title to any of the Authority’s property pledged as real property collateral.”
If I am reading this correctly, I believe the county is saying while KCCHA owns the building now, the county can take over its title, become owner and force KCCHA out if the agency’s board votes to ignore the county’s request.
The letter also asks for a public discussion of any alternative
locations, or tenants for the building. I’ve posted the letter
below so you can read it, and make a determination about what you
think it’s saying.
County Letter to KCCHA