Morrow County officials are looking for a new home for their north county offices, which may include leaving Irrigon entirely.
County offices in Irrigon provide space for the planning commission, veteran’s affairs, county clerk, parole and probation, and the sheriff’s office.
“We’re bursting at the seams in there,” said county commissioner Don Russell.
The county is considering a few options, among them constructing a new, larger building on the current site at 205 SE Third St., or moving the offices to Boardman where the county could purchase a recently-vacated Blue Mountain Community College facility.
At a recent Morrow County commissioner’s meeting, many Irrigon residents voiced their displeasure at the idea of moving county offices out of their city, arguing that doing so would diminish the city’s already limited business activity.
“If the planning department’s taken away, that building generates a lot of walk-through,” said Barbara Huwe, an Irrigon resident who collected several hundred signatures from people opposed to moving the offices. “That would tremendously impact our businesses.”
She said she recognizes the current building is run-down and too small, and that Boardman is more of an industrial hub.
Russell said the county is still in the very early stages of decision making, and it’s too soon to know how much any option will cost.
The final decision won’t come for months, he said. First, the county would have to design a building that will fit their needs, and then figure out the cost and how it would pay for it.
“We have to determine how big is our need today, 10 years down the road,” he said. “Until we figure out what we’re actually going to do, it’s hard to say what the cost savings are going to be.”
He acknowledged that people in Irrigon don’t want to lose the county presence.
“But I haven’t heard anyone saying they want to spend more money to keep it,” he said.
Huwe said while she, too, is frugal, she hoped citizens would take responsibility for their town.
“We pay taxes to the county, too,” she said. “We need to have some ownership.”
Russell said he does not know when the next discussion about the offices will be, but that all conversations will be conducted in public meetings.
Contact Jayati Ramakrishnan at 541-564-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.