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Mayor Jerry Sanders today voiced support for starting exclusive negotiations with a Portland-based developer looking to build a new City Hall complex — as long as it saves the city money in every fiscal year.

Given the city’s finances, Sanders said, it’s important the proposal save the city money starting in the first year. He said exclusive negotiations would allow for a more concrete picture of the project’s finances.

“A lot of questions have been raised about this proposal, as they should be,” the mayor said. “They can only be answered if we take this next step.”

A financial analysis done by the consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle showed that the city would almost certainly save money over 50 years if it went with a proposal by developer Gerding Edlen, and some scenarios show net savings in as little as 10 years. However, in certain years the project will cost more than it saves, according to the analysis.

Sanders said any proposal should be put to voters as early as June 2010, saying for both legal and ethical reasons it merited a ballot measure. He dismissed Councilman Carl DeMaio’s call for further financial analysis of the project. “This has been analyzed and analyzed and analyzed,” Sanders said.

The mayor said he’d favor studying the idea of placing the downtown library at the City Hall site if negotiations with the school district about a joint project fall through.

A City Council committee is slated to discuss the issue Wednesday.

RANI GUPTA

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