The Starke County Council and Commissioners are attempting to explain the necessity of renovations to the courthouse and former jail. Council President Freddie Baker said during Monday’s meeting questions have arisen in the public about why the county is spending so much money to redo the two buildings. Commissioner Kathy Norem says it’s been part of the discussion since the new jail was in the planning process. She adds the work is being paid for with money from the dedicated county economic development income tax (CEDIT) earmarked for the jail as well as the regular CEDIT fund.
“It is existing revenue streams. There is no loan. We don’t have to borrow money. We have the money to be able to do that. In fact we waited long enough to make sure some of those funds were built up sufficiently so we could do that.”
Norem adds funds for the project are not coming out of the county’s general fund and notes the original $4.5 million estimate for the project offered last November was slashed.
“We did not want to spend that much money, number one, and number two we didn’t have that much money. So the project was pared back, and some things that we had hoped to be able to do we’ll have to fund in future projects, perhaps.”
The courthouse renovations include improved entryway security and the reconfiguration of office space for the prosecutor, clerk’s office and health department. The former jail space is being transformed into office space for Starke County Community Corrections, the probation department and Purdue Extension Starke County.