By Deb Murphy

With an improved lease and Grocery Outlet footing some of the infrastructure costs at the Wye Road and Route 6 site, Inyo’s north county consolidated office building got a five thumbs up from the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Those thumbs don’t necessarily mean the project is going ahead full-tilt. They just represent a first step. Direction to staff was to set up community workshops in both north and south counties and proceed with a final design and a completed lease. CAO Kevin Carunchio anticipated the Board would be presented with both sometime this fall.

Given the five years since the lease-to-own plan was first proposed, construction costs and interest rates have gone up. Initially estimated at a total outlay of $14 million, that number has now risen by roughly 25-percent.

Consultant Allan D. Kotin provided a look into the long-term savings of consolidating County staff currently housed at seven rented locations in Bishop. His assumptions were based on the original deal—a $2 million payment at the start with $50,000 monthly rent, lump payments of $250,000 in years five, ten and 15 and a final $1 payment at year 20 at which time the County owns the facility.

The total costs of either continuing to rent or going with the above scenario would be parallel, but the new-build would be steeper. According to Kotin’s charts, current rents run just under $500,000 a year. By 2040, the Wye facility expenses include “occupancy costs” only while rents keep rising. By 2068, Kotin pointed out, cost different would be $30 million lower for the new facility.

The second payment plan calls for a down of $7.8 million. According to Kotin, with that down payment, “the County would be ahead by day one.”

The financing will come from a “variety of discretionary funds as well as categorical funds that can be applied to categorical uses in the new building,” according to Carunchio.

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