Pulaski County officials made their pitch to the public last night at the Eastern Pulaski Middle School Socialtorium for renovations and additions to the County Courthouse.
The County has been working for about three years on the concept, but has reached the point where they are considering potential designs and financing methods. The project has not yet been green lighted, but the planning stages – while still preliminary – have reached a stage to begin discussing the project with the public.
County Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Johnston pointed to one of the major reasons behind the effort.
“During this whole process, ADA accessibility must be addressed, and federal law mandates it,” says Johnston. “If we don’t meet their standards, we will lose federal funding to our highway department.”
Currently there is an elevator at the courthouse among other things, but it does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Both the Pulaski County Commissioners and the County Council have reviewed potential problems with the courthouse over the course of several meetings this year. Lacking support in the attic trusses, and buckling retainer walls on the courthouse lawn were all cited as needing improvements. Other measures such as creating room for more office space and increasing security through a single entry point have also been discussed.
Financing the project largely depends on its scope. Todd Samuelson is a partner with financial firm Umbaugh and Associates. He says the total budget is a hair under $6.6-million, but there’s more to the budget creation process.
“We are going to recommend, and we have built into the budget, contingencies against those numbers,” says Umbaugh. “Also building in what we call soft costs. I don’t like that term, but they’re non-construction costs.”
Apart from the renovations, a new structure is currently being considered to be built next to the existing building.
Those in attendance were afforded the opportunity to ask questions. Many cost considerations were brought up by the audience, including the potential for tax increases.