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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Ind. Courts - More on: "Community Concerned About Brown Co. Courthouse Expansion"
Months after taxpayers said “no” to financing a plan to expand the Brown County Courthouse, the building is still short on space and violating disability access laws as county officials again try to convince residents to support a tax increase for an expansion.
Last fall, citizens on both sides of the issue carried petitions and gathered signatures from Brown County residents for and against the courthouse plan. The final tally was 8-1 against a tax hike for the project.
But county officials want to move forward and say they must at least bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by making the restrooms wheelchair accessible and building ramps in the circuit courtroom, where stairs lead to the judge’s office.
Other options are adding on to the existing courthouse in the center of Nashville, or building a new facility adjacent to the law enforcement center just east of town.
During a meeting this week, about 50 citizens showed up to hear more and to speak their minds. * * *
The project would likely be financed by a $6.5 million bond issue. A resident with property assessed at $100,000 would pay an additional $22 per year in property taxes to fund the project.
The discussions in hope of reversing the tide against a courthouse expansion will continue over the next few months as county officials decide how to proceed.
Brown County Commissioner John Kennard said it will cost about $70,000 to bring the historic brick courthouse into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that public buildings be accessible to people in wheelchairs.
Since there have been no formal citizen complaints filed regarding the lack of access, the county has not yet been forced to comply with the federal law. Kennard said he wants to make the improvements, but hesitates to spend the money since the alterations night be affected by a future expansion plan.
“From our study, the most logical answer is remodeling and expanding the existing courthouse. It’s old and fits the motif of the town,” Kennard said. “I think we have to at least make the building accessible. ... We are out of money, but we have to look at that and start somehow, and there’s no reason to do this twice if we go with the expansion.”
Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 17, 2014 04:10 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts