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Routt County officials are leaning toward seeking $9.9 million in general obligation bonds to build a new courthouse in the November election.
If county officials decide to seek more than $9.9 million in the Nov. 5 election, more than one question would be required.
"We want to come up with a proposal that would be the most palatable for voters," Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said Monday.
Which direction the county takes will depend on the cost of the building and how much reserve funds, if any, the county is willing to spend on the project.
Because of the county's assessed value, officials can seek a general obligation bond in the amount of $9.9 million with just one question on the ballot.
If the county decides to seek more than $10 million for the facility, the county would have to seek a revenue bond. In that case, voters would have to approve the bond issue and a mill-levy increase to pay for it. "If one of the questions does not pass, the whole thing fails," Monger said. "I think we are heading in the direction of one question."
How much money the county asks from taxpayers for the new facility will depend on the cost of the 52,000-square-foot building, which would be built on the southwest corner of Sixth and Oak streets.
At this time, the county's Denver-based architect, HML Design, has completed the design phase of the building. The cost of the building is expected to be available next week.
With the help of local officials, the architectural firm recently changed the design to lower the cost of the project.
The new design was unveiled Monday morning. The major change in the building is its entrance. A three-column building with a steeple tower has been replaced by a glass window facade with a domed tower.
"This is a simplified version," said Tim Winter, county purchasing director. "But the basic design remains the same."
The cost estimate will allow county officials to determine if county's reserve funds of $23 million can be used for the facility. "If we decide to use our reserve for the courthouse, we would have to prioritize the projects that have already been earmarked," Monger said.
The state has notified the county the current courthouse, which was built in 1923, does not meet state standards. The facility, which houses a county judge and two district court judges in two courtrooms, is 11,200 square feet. The state requires a 33,200-square-foot building for a county with three judges.
The current courthouse also poses a security concern for local officials. A narrow hallway divides the two courtrooms. Defendants in the custody of the Routt County Sheriff's Office are taken through this hallway to get to the courtrooms. The courthouse also does not provide rooms where lawyers can talk to victims and defendants in private.
The new facility would include three courtrooms, conference rooms, holding cells and office space for court staff, prosecutors and the county's probation department.
The project also includes the partial closing of Sixth Street and a parking garage at the corner of Oak and Fifth streets.
To place the bond question on the ballot, the county must notify the county clerk's office by July 29.
County officials are planning to remodel and renovate the current courthouse to provide additional office space for other county departments, which currently lease office space.