Linn County Supervisors will proceed with lease-purchase plan

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Linn County Supervisors agreed to use an unusual method to finance and build a new county office building. That’s despite concerns it might end up costing taxpayers more money.

An artist's illustration of the Linn County Public Health and Youth Development Services Building. Image from: OPN Architects.

The new building, named for the late Dr. Percy Harris and his wife Lileah, will house Linn County Public Health, the county’s youth development services and some other facilities.

Supervisors voted 4-1 on Wednesday to use a lease-purchase contract rather than put the project up for a more traditional bidding process.

Some critics at the public hearing told supervisors that method might increase the overall costs. The vote called for a project not to exceed $31.5-million dollars.

But Supervisor Ben Rogers, one of the four prevailing votes, said it’s a way to insure local companies and workers benefit the most.

“The dollars here for local workers, union and non-union, is turned over in our community multiple times and our goal is to build a building the community is not only proud of but that comes in under budget and on time,” Rogers said.

The county already owns the land where construction will take place. Because a county-owned flood-damaged building once stood on the property, a bill passed by Iowa lawmakers eliminated the need for a bond vote.