The Pulaski County Council has agreed to begin essential updates to the courthouse in an effort to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Maintenance supervisor Jeff Johnston says at a minimum the entry doors to the restrooms in the basement need to be widened and wheelchair accessible stalls need to be added. Those are among the numerous, costly repairs the courthouse will require to address both ADA and structural issues.
County officials previously deferred action until after new council and county commission members take office in January.
Johnston says some of the issues are simple fixes and others are more complicated. He’s spoken informally with Pulaski County Building Inspector Doug Hoover but has not asked him to do a comprehensive walk-through to document the extent of the issues, as doing so would require him to document and address the problems.
The ADA issues were brought to the forefront by a recent threat from INDOT to withhold federal funding if the county was not compliant with the law. As a result of an ensuing “desk audit” county attorney Kevin Tankersley says officials now have paperwork in place that was lacking for several years. By doing so, he adds the county is in a very real position to be sued for noncompliance once the transition plan documenting every problem is published as required by law. Tankersley adds “working toward compliance” does not protect the county from lawsuits, it merely protects officials from audit.
The council agreed to advertise for an additional appropriation so necessary restroom modifications can begin immediately. Johnston doesn’t yet know how much the work will cost but promised to get a ballpark figure as soon as possible. Auditor Shelia Garling needs an amount by Thursday in order to meet the legal advertising deadline. She adds this is the final opportunity to request an additional appropriation in the 2016 budget.