SPRINGFIELD -- The three candidates for the Springfield Lane County commissioner seat express varying levels of support for or misgivings about providing a multimillion-dollar public subsidy to a proposed conference center in Glenwood.
Candidate Sheri Moore expresses the most support of any of the candidates for the subsidy, although she has damped down her previous level of enthusiasm.
Developers earlier this year said they wanted up to $2.5 million from Springfield and up to $6 million from Lane County over 10 years to help finance the $17 million conference center project, which they want to combine with a $26 million hotel.
As a Springfield city councilor, Moore voted for the city allocation in April, but subsequent doubts raised by the Lane County commissioners lead her to believe that both governments "need to back up at this point."
But, she added, "It would be great thing for Springfield to have this type of a project. ... There's a place for public-private involvement in development."
Charmaine Rehg says it makes no sense for the county to provide funds "with no strings attached." She thinks the county should either offer developers a loan or provide the subsidy in exchange for some ownership of the conference center.
"I don't think it's proper for people who already have money to be asking the county to cut them, basically, a welfare check," she said.
Incumbent Springfield county Commissioner Sid Leiken says he still has some "pointed questions" about the developers' business plan and is wary of a direct subsidy "at this point."
"If I knew the conference center was one piece of three or four other developments (in the area), that could be interesting," he said.
City and county staffs are evaluating details of the hotel and conference center proposal by a group headed in part by local builder Greg Vik. Springfield has hired an outside consulting firm to evaluate the economic viability of the project.