Oregon Blows $300,000 To Move Four Trees
The state of Oregon has paid $300,000 to a California company to move four trees on the state capitol grounds in Salem. This was hidden in the last biennial budget. The trees are apparently being relocated to make way for an underground vault project.
Republican state representative Julie Parrish had this to say on a facebook post:
The $300k taxpayer funded boondoggle of moving four trees at the State Capitol (by a California firm to boot) started right outside my office window yesterday.
The likelihood they even survive since they’re in bloom and not dormant is slim.
People might think…$300k of a multi-billion dollar budget is a “drop in the bucket” but the fact is…those drops add up and eventually the bucket overflows.
We’re at a tipping point in State government where we cannot tax ourselves out of the budget mess we’re in. A billion dollars of new tax revenue won’t generate a billion dollars of new services….it will barely maintain the status quo. However…this…the $300k tree moving…is the status quo you’re paying for as we lay off teachers and cut human services.
If we want to fix the budget, we need to look in the checkbook…and stop spending money on things that are not critical to serving the needs of people. It adds up quickly.
As if that’s not ridiculous enough, Bill Post, another Republican state rep, took a video of the project after the workers broke a water line:
Yup, that $300,000 tab just went up, as now the taxpayers have to pay to repair the water line.
Meanwhile, Governor Kate Brown claims to be looking at ways to trim the state budget, as KATU reported:
“This is going to be a bit uncomfortable but we must do it,” Gov. Kate Brown told reporters as she announced new cost-cutting measures to trim Oregon’s budget on Thursday.
The measures are aimed at helping fill the state’s $1.6 billion deficit. The governor is also looking to sell off state land to raise funds.
Brown announced two executive orders and a task force charged with selling off assets, including land, to help pay off the $22 billion the state owes the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).
The trees have to be removed from their homes at the east and west entrances to make way for new mechanical vaults on each side of the building.
The new vaults are part of the $50 million Capitol Accessibility, Maintenance and Safety (CAMS) Project, approved by the Legislature in 2016.
The state opted to relocate the trees, rather than remove them, in order to save time and keep the historical character of the Capitol grounds, which is a nominee for the National Register of Historic Places, said Chris Havel, associate director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. (The Capitol grounds are a state park.)
The state inked a $285,500 contract with California-based Environmental Design Inc. Wednesday, April 12, to relocate the trees to other parts of the Capitol grounds. The trees have been relocated two other times before, so moving their location makes no impact on the historical character of the grounds, Havel said.
“It’ll be a fabulous spectacle to watch people move mature trees, but the cost is an issue,” said Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, during a discussion March 29 by the Joint Committee on Legislative Administration.
Here’s a shot of all of the out-of-state workers *hard* at work:
And they apparently just have one guy doing the actual work:
Some commenters on facebook and media posts are saying it would cost more than $300,000 to cut down the trees. Apparently they don’t know that it’s free to post a craigslist ad titled “FREE FIREWOOD! YOU CHOP!”.
Feel free to contact the following public officials:
Oregon Senate president Peter Courtney: 503-986-1600, [email protected]
Oregon speaker of the house Tina Kotek: 503-986-1200, [email protected]
Oregon governor Kate Brown: 503-378-4582
Oregon Senate finance & revenue committee chair Mark Hass: 503-986-1714, [email protected]
Joint ways & means committee co-chair Rep. Nancy Nathanson: 503-986-1413, [email protected]
The other Joint ways & means committee co-chair Senator Richard Devlin: 503-986-1719, [email protected]