Responding to taxpayer concerns that they were trying to “sneak it into the budget,” Marion County Commission quickly distanced itself Monday from a preliminary proposal to expand the courthouse.
“Marion County cannot afford $7.5 million right now or in the foreseeable future to update the courthouse,” commission chairman Dan Holub said. “I don’t see it happening— not now, and not in the future.”
Commissioners started talking about possible expansion last year. In January, they asked Treanor Architects to assess department space needs and develop conceptual layouts, which were presented at the June 22 meeting. Both proposals topped $7 million in projected costs.
Holub itemized projects needing attention including poor condition of the county’s transfer station, shop, and windows, air conditioning, and structure of the courthouse.
“We’re not in the position to spend that kind of money,” he said. “We have to pick and choose. I’m not going to have anything to do with spending $7.5 million to update the courthouse.”
Commissioner Randy Dallke said he was “sort of disappointed” by Holub’s announcement.
“That $7 million may save you $14 million,” Dallke said. “I’m not going to rule it out by any means.”
“We got to move ahead someday,” Dallke said, “but you can’t move ahead without knowing which way to go.”
Commissioner Lori Lalouette, who did not attend presentations of the plan last week, agreed.
“We should look at options to see what we need and prioritize,” Lalouette said. “We’ll have to look at it a bit further to see what our highest priority is right now.”
In other business:
- Health department administrator Deidre Serene said a new grant will help fund Ebola training to health department employees.
- Marion food bank asked for $3,000 to pay utility bills next year.
- Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence group asked for $3,000 to help give workers more time to help Marion county residents.
- Both funding requests will be considered as commissioners prepare their budget for next year later this month.