Monroe is likely headed toward withdrawing any potential claim in the Rucker Building.
Councilmembers directed city staff at last Tuesday’s meeting to bring forward the interlocal agreement proposed by the Snohomish County Health District that would relinquish any interest the city could potentially have if the building sells. The Snohomish County Council and 19 other municipalities were first presented with the request in December.
“I continue to feel comfortable and confident that relinquishing our interest is good and the right thing to do,” said Councilmember Jeff Rasmussen. “I am still in support of that...”
No definitive proof has been found to show the city has any financial interest in the building; just the health district, which is named on the deed and title. A 1990 interlocal agreement shows 20 cities, including Monroe, and the county agreed to help pay off the loan taken out by the health district to purchase the building in annual installments. The loan was paid off by 1995, and the ILA expired.
“It is reasonably certain that Monroe made payments for five years for its portion of the purchase totaling $24,428, or 0.273 percent of the total of the purchase price,” said Interim City Administrator David Moseley. “The reason I say ‘reasonably certain,’ is because the city has no record of making these payments, however, that would have been our contribution, and the building was paid off during this period.”
The building originally cost $5.15 million. In 1995, an amendment was made to the health district charter that specified who would receive what amount of the sale of the building, but no other document was finalized that would have implemented that 1990 ILA retroactively, said city attorney Zach Lell.
“That is an issue we have talked about extensively,” he said, later adding, “so it’s not on its face an enforceable document at this point.”
City finance director Dianne Nelson contacted the Washington State Auditor’s Office to find out if the city would experience any penalties for giving up its claim, which was not be a possibility, Moseley said. Nelson also assessed the value of the building at nearly $9.15 million now, according to an agenda bill.
The health district has paid about $6.4 million for the building, according to ILA estimates. All other agencies collectively contributed roughly $2.5 million. If anything, Monroe would be able to claim $24,969 from the appreciated value, $541 more than was originally paid.
“So we would basically be getting our money back?” asked Councilmember Kirk Scarboro.
Heather Thomas, health district public and government affairs manager, previously said the health district had also asked the cities to give up any claim because they have never been billed for any capital improvements or maintenance costs on the building. The health district also paid the interest on the loan, she said.
Lake Stevens and the county have already formerly agreed to relinquish any claim on the building, and “no cities have said ‘no’,” said Jefferson Ketchel, environmental health division director for the health district.
Councilmember Kevin Hanford said he feels city staff has thoroughly looked into the lack of evidence and has acted responsibly in regard to the money paid off in the original ILA.
“I appreciate what the health district does for the whole county,” said Councilmember Patsy Cudaback said. “I am OK with moving forward.”
The council will take action on the ILA at a later date.