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UPDATE | City council considers renewed lease for municipal courthouse

An oversight by the city of Bainbridge Island will mean more than twice as much rent for its courthouse in Rolling Bay under a new lease agreement.

According to city documents, the city could have renewed its lease at the current rent rate if it had confirmed renewal six months in advance.

The city, however, did not actively monitor the lease condition and failed to provide renewal notice in time.

“We had an opportunity to request a renewal term,” said Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t monitoring that so we missed that window.”

The city’s lease agreement with Rolling Bay Commercial Properties, Inc. is scheduled to expire Aug. 1.

The city council voted Monday to forward the new 3-year lease agreement to next week’s agenda.

The current rent for the building is $2,349 per month, or $28,185 annually.

The new lease will raise rent by 60 percent to $3,727 per month, or $44,729 annually.

In 2011, Rolling Bay Commercial Properties, Inc. reduced the rent to its current price tag to encourage the city to keep the court in Rolling Bay.

Since the city did not confirm its contract renewal by Jan. 31, the new lease agreement will raise rent to its pre-2011 rates.

From 2009 to 2011, the city paid the same $3,727 per month and similar prices dating back to 2004.

Although it will be an increase, by comparison, properties in downtown Winslow offer annual rent ranging from $20 to $25 per square foot.

The Rolling Bay property costs roughly $17 per square foot.

Even so, the city has been considering centralizing its municipal court to the Winslow area, which would also require about $100,000 in additional safety installations.

Under the terms of the proposed lease a new provision would also allow for early termination without penalty — given six months’ written notice.

If the council decides to pursue relocating the courthouse to a Winslow-area site, the provision will give the city flexibility.

“We felt like in the context of the conversations we’re having now about facility planning, that was really important from the city’s perspective,” Smith said.

With the safety net of a new lease agreement, though, Smith further explained the city won’t be pressured to move out of Rolling Bay on a timeline.

The new terms also provide two renewal periods for up to two years each.

“We thought it was important to preserve that much potential length as we go into the conversations of what might or might not change about our municipal court,” Smith said.

“We want to be able to have a fallback to stay in that facility if that’s a decision we need for the medium- or longer term,” she said.

 

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