• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Ballot contains $33.4 bond issue for courthouse annex

IOWA CITY– On Nov. 4, voters will once again decide the fate of Johnson County’s aging courthouse.
On the general election ballot for Johnson County voters is a proposed $33.4 million bond referendum to build a courthouse annex to improve the function of the facility.
In contrast to previous proposals that failed to garner the required 60 percent voter approval for a courthouse upgrade, there has been little negativity expressed about the 69,167 square foot, three-story addition to be built into the hill on the west side of the existing structure, with a secure main entrance to be located on the south side of the current courthouse. If approved, the annex will contain six courtrooms– doubling the number currently available– nine judges’ chambers, room for 10 court reporters, six jury deliberation rooms, six conference rooms and a law library. The building will be outfitted with necessary updated technology, and a sally port will allow inmates to enter the courthouse separately from the general public.
The plans do not include jail space other than two holding cells for inmates making court appearances. The Johnson County supervisors scaled back the size and scope of the project from previous efforts, arriving at the $33.4 million estimate based on preliminary design schematics.
The Johnson County Courthouse hasn’t been added onto in 115 years. The antiquated courthouse presents a profound lack of space and security, said supervisor Pat Harney. “There’s just a lot that needs to be done in there,” Harney said. Safety is Harney’s major concern, particularly for jurors, judges, the individuals going to trial, and their attorneys.
If the countywide Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) referendum passes, the board of supervisors will earmark 10 percent of the county’s LOST revenue for remodeling the existing courthouse, a project not included in the bond referendum.
The ballot language reads: “Shall the County of Johnson, State of Iowa, issue its general obligation bonds in an amount not exceeding the amount of $ 33,400,000 for the purpose of erecting and equipping a County Courthouse Annex, to solve current safety, security and space needs of the court operations, in a structure to be located adjacent to, incorporating, and connected to, the existing historic courthouse?”
Pre-design schematic drawings can be found on the county’s homepage at www.johnson-county.com by clicking on the Courthouse Annex logo at the bottom of the page. Drawings are also on display at the county administration building located at 913 S. Dubuque St. in Iowa City.