County Services Building Faces Another Challenge, a Possible Referendum

Last week the Pierce County Council approved the construction of a new County General Services Building in Tacoma's Lincoln neighborhood in a 4 to 3 vote. That approval came despite the protests of a group that wanted to see the County consolidate in Tacoma's downtown core.

Now another citizen group is trying to stop the County from constructing the new building at all. The News Tribune reports that Citizens for Responsible Spending has filed a referendum proposal with the Pierce County Auditor that would put a stop to the project. Formerly Citizens for Responsible School Spending, the group from Gig Harbor is known for targeting Peninsula School District spending. 

The County's math shows the consolidation would lead to a savings on leases and 38 eliminated positions, which would cover the cost of construction of the new building over time - $300 million over the next 25 years, according to the TNT article - enough to cover the 30 year lease of the building. The Gig Harbor group questions some of the assumptions supporting that math, worried that the promised savings will not ultimately cover the cost of the new building.

The new building is currently slated to break ground this spring, with a tight timeline to get employees into the new offices as scheduled, and to keep the guaranteed price negotiated with the developer. 

To get the referendum on the ballot, the group would need 24,427 valid signatures in the next 120 days. If they get them, you could get a chance to vote on the project.

Would you give them your signature to see the project go up for a vote? Or are you ready for the project to move ahead?

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Even though I was very much against the super lazy and utilitarian site choice that the County selected, I am not a fan of the “attacking the math” method of killing this project.  Nobody has really come out against the math on this thing; it’s the lack of real leadership that has been the most troubling - and that this project has been purely managerial in nature.  To attack the math on this project is sorta dumb because it can be easily qualified. 

Managers make decisions out of spreadsheets and it looks like this group is aiming at that…  Leaders look at the spreadsheets too but also share their vision in a charismatic nature, get people behind that vision, and ask the hard questions about what it all means to people and how they’ll react to it.  They pay attention to all aspects of a subject, personally accept fault for their team, and pass accomplishments down the line.  We saw absolutely none of this in the original process.

February 26, 2015 at 10:59 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The only math that can really be attacked is the peripheral costs of this project; adding transit lines to support it, a parking spot for every employee, reconstructing all the streets around it to accommodate traffic, the huge opportunity costs vs downtown, etc.

February 27, 2015 at 7:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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We do not have enough parking downtown as it is.  I know.  I live and work downtown.  Are these bus/Link/bike riders that think moving county administration downtown is a better idea?  The current location plans make more sense to me because it is unused property put to good use.  The spread of county offices across Tacoma is ridiculous.  A one stop shop for all things county just a few blocks from the so-called downtown core is a better idea than cramming it into already dysfunctional downtown streets.

No, I would not vote to move the Pierce County offices further into the downtown.

February 26, 2015 at 4:19 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Hi Karen, this isn’t a vote to move the County GS office Downtown. That was never going to happen because it’s likely politically impossible for the County Council to Kowtow to the Downtown Tacoma elite. This is a move for the County voters to vote the whole project down and tell Tacoma to go to Hell. I’m guessing it’s toast. There won’t be a new GS County office anywhere.

February 26, 2015 at 4:33 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Good luck getting 25,000 signatures lol I’m not worried…

February 26, 2015 at 6:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I hope your right, but I think Jerry Gibbs already has the political machine to do so.

February 26, 2015 at 7:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ok great, so when can we expect the 25,000 signatures to remove the needle exchange clinic that is causing way more damage to our neighborhood than this project ever will?  Any takers?  I love how you all speak negatively about Tacoma, yet you are the epitome of hypocrisy.

February 26, 2015 at 8:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sorry Sid, I you don’t have to tell me how all of this tough to take here in the Lincoln District. Look me up in real life. We’ll come up with a plan to shut down the needle exchange.

February 26, 2015 at 8:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I hear a number of the members of the Board of Public Health may be willing to host the needle exchange in front of their homes in their neighborhoods.  (Put another way, this is why you have a needle exchange in front of your home.)

February 27, 2015 at 1:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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According to the Health Department website, the needle exchange is located right outside the their office.  Haven’t you advocated for the Health Department to stay in Lincoln?  I’m confused…

February 27, 2015 at 7:19 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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They are operated independently and can be moved if enough people ask.

February 27, 2015 at 10:21 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Downtown Citizen

A lot of money could be saved on this project if it were designed by a Tacoma architectural firm (instead of Seattle). It would also bring in local contractors and create jobs for Tacoma citizens who are so badly in need of work.  Just sayin…...

March 2, 2015 at 8:23 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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What do we know about CRS (Citizens for Responsible Spending), and how do we know it? The shadowy arena of subversion is often populated by self-proclaimed consumers of leisure. Gig Harbor resident Jerry Gibbs, who represents CRS, described the grassroots committee as “retired guys with too much time on our hands.”

Is this true? CRS is a bunch of retired guys living an unstructured life? Fair warning, my fellow Tacoma and Pierce County citizens: Chaos wastes a tremendous amount of time and money.

Read more here:

March 2, 2015 at 12:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Word in the street is that the County has filed a lawsuit against Jerry Gibbs for filing the referendum.  Is that true?  Does anyone know any details?

March 3, 2015 at 7:17 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Whoa.  Just went to the TNT and found an article about this lawsuit.  It’s real.  I can’t believe the County would do that.  Where do I sign Jerry Gibb’s referendum?  Where?

March 3, 2015 at 7:44 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Kerry Hooks

Go to to get more information

March 30, 2015 at 2:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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