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Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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King County officials fight over furniture: new vs. used

Seattle Times staff reporter

In the ongoing saga of the new King County building, Executive Ron Sims has asked for $6.8 million for new furniture while Councilman Bob Ferguson wants to make sure the county first looks at buying used.

The council's Capital Budget Committee, which Ferguson chairs, plans to meet today to discuss the latest Sims-council tug of war over the $100 million building expected to open in June.

Sims sent his funding request to the council in May to furnish the building for 1,500 employees. He said the $6.8 million estimate is based on buying all new workstations and conference-room furnishings, but he plans to research the possibility of buying used furniture. The county built the new office to consolidate operations and stop paying for leased office space.

Ferguson, D-Seattle, said he has several questions he wants answered before approving the request.

"I want more than a wink and a nod that we're going to examine the used-furniture market," he said. "I want to make sure we're exploring if that's feasible."

According to a council staff report, buying used furniture would save the county $2.8 million.

Also, Ferguson doesn't want to pay for any furniture until he sees a space plan, a complete list of departments that will move into the building. The council requested it in March and Ferguson asked for it again in a June letter to Sims.

"It seems like an important piece of information as we make a decision on $7 million of taxpayer dollars," he said.

Earlier this year, Sims and the council tussled over whether Sims, who uses leased space in the Columbia Center, would move into the new building at Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street or back to the courthouse, where the council works. In March, the council went against Sims' wishes and ordered him to move back to the courthouse.

Sims says the council needs to finish work on the ordinance that determined his office's future location.

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"Our understanding is they're working on resolving what they need to modify in the ordinance, then we will send the space plan over to them," said Sandeep Kaushik, Sims' spokesman.

Ferguson says he doesn't see how the two are related.

"The new office building has nothing to do with the executive's eventual move to the courthouse," he said.

In his letter, Ferguson wrote, "I am compelled to withhold review of the funding request" until the space plan is submitted.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com

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