COURTHOUSE CROWDING: Vote Set For $81m Bond
Polk County voters will make an $81-million decision at the polls Tuesday.
County leaders and court officials are asking for the money to refurbish a courthouse they say is dangerous and overcrowded.
The current set-up with the juvenile courtroom sharing an entrance with the criminal courtroom has been described as being “very unsafe,” by District Court Judge Eliza Ovrom.
When the courthouse was built more than a century ago, it had just four courtrooms. Now it houses 28.
If voters approve a bond, those courtrooms would be spread out amongst the current building, the former county jail and the downtown Wellmark building.
Former State Auditor Richard Johnson says county leaders are jumping the gun.
“How can we justify that size of a change without looking more at are there other options?” Johnson says.
Johnson says if the referendum passes, it would cost the average Polk County homeowner an additional $18 per year.
Polls are open from 7 a.m to 8 p.m. Tuesday.