On Monday January 9, 2023, the City of Woodburn filed a Petition for Judicial Review lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court against the State of Oregon’s Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and the Oregon State Treasurer after DAS notified the City that it would not issue bonds to fund the $15 million grant awarded by the Oregon State Legislature in 2021 intended to fund a portion of Woodburn’s proposed Community/Cultural Center Project. DAS’ decision to override the Oregon Legislature’s grant award to the City of Woodburn has prompted to the City to take this action.
The lawsuit can be found by clicking here.
The City is represented by Kevin Shuba of the Salem-based Garrett, Hemann and Robertson law firm in this case.
“The suit seeks judge’s order to force state unelected bureaucrats to follow the mandate of the Oregon Legislature and take action to obtain the $15 million earmarked for the City’s Community Center,” said Shuba.
According to state officials, DAS decided to unilaterally remove Woodburn’s legislatively approved funding was based on DAS concerns about the project’s long-term viability despite the project’s successful vetting through the legislative process.
“Filing a lawsuit was the last thing we wanted to do, but DAS’ arbitrary decision has left the City no other choice. We have to take this step to preserve the viability of the Community/Cultural Center Project and protect Woodburn’s taxpayers. Basic tenants of fairness and equity are being violated with DAS’ decision to preempt the State Legislature’s directive with no discernable process,” said Woodburn Mayor Frank Lonergan.
SB 5534 represents the second round of funding awarded towards Woodburn’s longed planned Community/Cultural Center Project, with the first round of funding (totaling $1 million) having been administered by the same organization with no issues. The Community Center is a critical community project intended to serve Woodburn’s ethnically diverse community and underrepresented populations.
The City has worked for years to develop the Community/Cultural Center Project. Without the State’s $15 million contribution, the Community/Cultural Center Project, which is intended to provide services ranging from youth and senior programing to addressing houselessness, cannot move forward into the next phases of design and construction.
“This funding was developed through the collaborative efforts of then Speaker Tina Kotek, Senate President Peter Courtney, State Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, former Mayor Eric Swenson, community leader Anthony Veliz and approved by the Oregon Legislature. Woodburn is entitled to this legislatively directed funding. We hope this will resolve amicably with DAS honoring their legislative directive, reversing their position on Woodburn’s community center funding, allowing our needed Community/Cultural Center Project to move forward,” said Woodburn Council President Robert Carney. “I also want to publicly thank Oregon State Senator Thatcher for her vocal and steadfast advocacy for Woodburn.”