PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After Clackamas County killed the purchase of a hotel for a transitional shelter, commissioners are debating whether they should withhold money the state gave the county for the purchase.

It comes as there are questions about if chair Tootie Smith violated open meeting laws when she reversed her vote on the project last week.

There was no notice of the meeting last week and a legal expert told KOIN 6 that it’s questionable whether it was an emergency at all.

Meanwhile, the county is still paying for beds in this hotel for people who are homeless all while one commissioner believes another organization is likely to buy it and turn it into a shelter anyway.

Commissioner Paul Savas said there are several buyers he’s heard are interested in doing that so he led a vote Wednesday to delay returning the money the state granted Clackamas County to buy this hotel.

“If we don’t own it , we can’t control it and we can’t live up to the promises we made.” Savas said.

He hopes by doing that the county can leverage who buys the motel to a buyer more in line with what the board wants, he said ideally a high barrier shelter versus a low barrier.

“Potentially, another buyer come in and possible runts it a way that is more Portland-like rather than what we were talking about of a more high-barrier type of facility.” Savas said

Last week, chair Tootie Smith reversed her vote from February, now opposing the purchase. She said it was because more people came out against the proposal.

The Lake Oswego Review reported that Smith was facing censure from the county Republican party between the February vote and last week.

Commissioner Martha Schrader is one of several county officials who told KOIN 6 they didn’t hear about the emergency meeting that Smith declared until thirty minutes before it happened.

Smith said the emergency was that the paperwork was due the next day but with no notice to citizens or to media of the meeting the county likely violated open meeting laws.

“You can’t create an emergency by waiting until the last minute and deciding you need to take some particular action and even if you do, then at that point in time, you need to describe the purpose of the notice and you still need to give interested parties notice of the meeting,” said attorney Steven Wilker.

However, the consequences are vague. In order for action to be taken a media organization or citizens would have to file a lawsuit. If it’s a true violation, the county or chair would pay fines and legal fees.

Because Clackamas County backed out of buying the hotel it will have to pay $150,000 to the current owner of the motel.

The Lake Oswego review reports the county is losing up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time over the purchase. It already spends $4 million a year to buy beds at hotels at the market rate for people who are homeless.

The commissioners will make a final decision on returning the money on Tuesday.