Steamboat Springs A model of the proposed Routt County Judicial Facility will hit the road this week as a campaign is put in place to get the votes and money needed to build the full-scale judicial building.
Headed by former County Commissioner Ben Beall, Routt Citizens for Safe Courts is gearing up its campaign to convince county voters by November's election date to approve a mill levy for the courthouse.
With a $17.2 million price tag for the new courthouse and parking garage, commissioners are looking at an $11 million and 20-year bond issue.
Voters would be asked to approve an increase in property taxes that is estimated to be no more than 1.3 mils.
Once the County Assessors' Office determines property values in August an exact amount would be given, Beall said.
The development plans received approval from the city's planning commission Thursday night, but must still go before the City Council. The plans show a 52,000 square-foot judicial facility and a two-and-half story parking garage.
"It's a landmark structure and will last for 70 years or so," Beall said. "At this time it has value and it has to happen. It's not bells and whistles, something you don't need for the community. This is something the government needs to see happen."
To help educate the voters, the organization plans to take the courthouse architectural model around to well-traveled spots in the county. The first stop will be the First National Bank of Steamboat Springs, where the model will sit this week.
Beall said there are also plans for a Web site, brochures and a media campaign.
Because the county cannot lawfully spend any money on campaigning, the organization will also do some fund-raising to pay for the promotion.
Even though Beall ended his term last year, he has been working with building a new courthouse since 1993 when he first became a county commissioner.
The state gave a mandate to the county to provide and maintain adequate facilities for the 14th Judicial District. The county was told the current courthouse, which was built in1923, does not meet state standards.
The existing courthouse, which houses a county judge and two district court judges in two courtrooms, is 11,200 square feet. The level of square footage the state requires for a county court with three judges, similar to Steamboat's, is 33,200 square feet.
'It has to be done' will become a slogan for the courthouse campaign, Beall said.
"The county is mandated to provide a courthouse. It is required to support that facility for the future," he said.
Under the current proposal, the county will ask for an $11 million bond issue and pull the additional funding $6.2 million from reserves.
Plans are for the new judicial facility to house the court system and for the renovated historic courthouse to hold county offices. By not having to rent space in outlying buildings, the county will save about $50,000 a year, Beall said.
The bond issue for the courthouse will be one of three mill levies that will most likely to be on the November ballot for Steamboat Springs residents. The City Council has voted to ask for mill levies to support Howelsen Hill and the fire department. And the Hayden School District is asking for a mill levy to increase its teachers' salaries.