Fact check: Yes, Boise just paid the library architects. No, it didn’t violate its “pause” pledge

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This week, the Boise City Council approved its check ledger as it does regularly. Mixed in with the usual list of city accounts payable is a line item that stands out: $640,555.62 to Safdie Associates.

Boise Working Together, the group that spearheaded two petitions aimed at changing how the city deals with large projects like the library and stadium, wrote a Facebook post about the payment.

“If Mayor Bieter has put the library on ‘pause’ why are we continuing to pay the architect? A screenshot for the checks for our City Council members (including incumbent candidates Clegg and McLean) look like Safdie is still pulling in hefty payments,” the group wrote.

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But the payment is for work Safdie Associates did before the city announced it would put a pause on the library project in August.

Screenshot of 10/3 Current expense cash payment register from the City of Boise

“That’s an invoice payment from work done this summer… pre-pause,” City of Boise spokesperson Mike Journee told BoiseDev.

The city announced in August that it would put a pause on planning of the project in the face of escalating construction costs. The move also came just before the general election season for the city heated up – with both incumbent mayor Dave Bieter and council president Lauren McLean running for mayor. Both supported the library project and the selection of Safdie Associates.

The city has not yet seen when and how the project could leave its paused status. Its $11-million contract with Safdie Associates and local firm CSHQA is only paid out as work is completed.

So far up to the pause, Journee said, the city has spent $2.5 million of the $11 million architecture. Overall, the city has paid out $3.2 million on the project across all categories – but believes it will have a few more invoices coming in for work done ahead of the pause.

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