Raleigh is Building a New $165 Million City Hall. But Why Though?

By Brent Woodcox

Reading this article from the News & Observer, a couple facts jumped out to me as notable regarding the city of Raleigh's plan to build a new $165 million city complex.

About 1,050 city employees currently work downtown, and the number could jump to 3,000 in the next 30 years. ...

Raleigh currently spends just over $1 million per year for 112 employees who work at three other downtown sites.
— Anna Johnson - N&O

Why would Raleigh be planning to triple the number of employees who work downtown over the course of the next 30 years? With notable challenges facing workers who are trying to find affordable housing near downtown, why would the city be trying to locate more employees in the most expensive area of town to live? Won't this encourage more commuting, more pollution and more traffic?

Second, why is Raleigh spending $1 million in overhead just to locate 112 employees? You could pay for co-working space in one of the several new sites that have opened up in Raleigh for less than that amount. Meanwhile, we would be supporting local businesses with our tax dollars that fund city employment.

It's this kind of lack of critical thinking and budget mismanagement that makes me nervous and skeptical of building a shiny, new civic campus for $165 million, especially when city leaders admit that the current building has 15 years of useful life left in it. If we're not spending our money any better than that, how can we trust city councilors to spend more to build themselves nicer offices?

According to the city, a new campus would be a “public civic heart." But shouldn't our "public civic heart" be found not in a building but how we spend the money we take from taxpayers? Facing an affordable housing crisis, we're spending just $7.24 million trying to ensure that families have access to homes that they can afford. In light of that, it just doesn't make sense to spend $165 million on a new city building right now.

Brent Woodcox