Jefferson County courthouse needs millions of dollars in renovat - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Jefferson County courthouse needs millions of dollars in renovations

MOUNT VERNON, IL (KFVS) -

The Jefferson County Board held two public meetings on Monday to hear from residents their ideas on paying for problems at the county courthouse.

"The shell of the building is fine," said Robert White Jefferson County Board Chairman. "Really what we have is an issue with the broiler with failing lines, and lines that don't exist anymore. It's only operating at twenty percent capacity."

Chairman White says the aging courthouse, built in 1939, has numerous problems and they're costly ones to fix.

"We've got residential air-conditioner units cooling the facility that are plugged into an electrical grid that was never set up for that load capacity. We've got issues of no hot water in the public restrooms. You can't effectively wash your hands in those restrooms."

The county board members were talking about tapping into some of the excess funds sitting in the public safety tax account to begin paying for phase one of the estimated $7.6 million project.

That didn't set well with some of the residents at the meeting.

"The people voted for the public safety tax money to pay for a jail, that they probably didn't want in the first place," said James Robinson of MT. Vernon. "We didn't get to vote on a jail. And that public safety tax money should go to the jail, not for anything else."

That was not the only concern citizens had about the project. Some also questioned how the Saint Louis, MO based company M360 was chosen by the board to coordinate the project.

"My concern is that in Illinois you are not allowed to bid professional services by state statute," said James Rippy of Mt. Vernon. "And I want to understand how many proposals they looked at other then the one."

Chairman White answered Rippy's question and stated the board had received three proposals. But, M360 was the only company that came down to meet with the county board.

County leaders learned on Monday that there isn't enough revenue coming into the county to support putting the measure in a referendum for voters to decide if they want to pay for the work.

"We've got two issues here. We have a courthouse that needs renovated with a price tag of seven point $6 million," said White. "And then we have a jail bond that was refinanced back in 2009 and extended another ten years, which there's going to be a $7 million obligation to pay in 2033. And the quarter-cent public safety sales tax will expire in 2023, there will be no revenue source to pay for that obligation at that time."

The county board has no set plans at this time on how they're going to pay for the repair and renovations at the county courthouse.

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