County asks for input on ways to fund justice facility

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Working under a court mandate to build a new justice facility, the Routt County commissioners will ask for community input Tuesday on how to finance the $12 million to $14 million project.

They have narrowed it down to two possibilities: using a lease purchase or increasing property taxes, which would require voter approval from Routt County residents.

At the ballots last November, voters turned down a similar tax increase that would have funded construction of a downtown judicial center -- a maximum 1.2 mill levy that could have generated $667,000 per year for up to 20 years until the new justice center was paid for, Commissioner Dan Ellison said.

The commissioners are inviting the public to an open hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, asking for input on how to finance the proposed justice center.

Instead of paying more to have the building downtown, the county decided June 10 to build the 40,000-square-foot justice center on an undeveloped 5.5-acre lot within the Curve subdivision, south of the Routt County Jail along Shield Drive, as the future home of the 40,000-square-foot justice center.

The county has about $7 million in reserve funds set aside for the project, so it will have to obtain enough money to cover the balance of the total cost, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. It is undetermined exactly how much the building will cost because final plans have not been made for the building's design. But, the county will have to cut costs from other projects no matter which way it chooses to fund the project, Monger said.

"We want to work to keep the cost down without sacrificing the integrity of the building," Monger said. "I'm interested to hear what the public has to say."

Initial costs involved in construction of the new courthouse include the $550,000 cost of the Curve lot and $200,000 to $300,000 for backfilling wetland areas on the property.

"Each one of us has had thoughts about what makes the most sense to fund this," Ellison said. "Personally, I haven't totally decided. I want to hear what the variations with costs will be."

"I have my own thoughts as a taxpayer, but as a commissioner, I need to hear what the public's feelings are," Monger said.

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