Supes approve $16M plan to renovate courthouse

Supes approve $16M plan to renovate courthouse


Madison County will move forward with at least one of three building projects totaling nearly $30 million. 

The capital projects are in addition to a massive $250 million transportation plan approved by county supervisors on Monday (See story, A1).

Supervisors were presented with plans to renovate the circuit courthouse, build a new tax assessor/collector building on the south end of the county, and invest into the historic courthouse on the Canton Square. 

County Administrator Greg Higginbotham told supervisors he has been meeting court officials over the last few months on plans to remodel the circuit courthouse and possibly add an addition on the property. 

Higginbotham said plans are estimated to cost $16 million just to renovate the courthouse and $8 million to build an addition for the district attorney.

Last year, the board voted against buying a  $2.7 million building in the city of Madison for the DA. 

Higginbotham said the cost for the assessor/collector building was estimated at $8 million, and improvements to the historic courthouse were closer to $3 million. 

“I can’t very well vote for these capital projects and deduct the $22-$25 from roads,” District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter said. “I feel like this county needs to stay focused on roads.”

“Roads get me excited, buildings don’t,” District 1 Supervisor Casey Brannon then added, earning an “I like it” from District 4 Supervisor Karl Banks. 

However, later on, Brannon ended up later making the motion to spend $16 million to renovate the circuit courthouse without the $8 million DA’s addition.

Senior Circuit Judge Steve Ratcliff told supervisors that there have been ongoing problems with the courthouse for years and he wished this was something the board did 10 years ago when it would have been a lot cheaper. 

“Something needs to be done,” he said. 

Circuit Judge Dewey Arthur said there is carpet in the jury room with a stain where somebody defecated, and the ceiling leaks. 

He pleaded whatever the board decides to do or not to do, “please change the carpet.” 

Ashley Allen with the DA’s office said they would not agree to anything without knowing the cost, adding there are more cost-efficient alternatives out there. Supervisors unanimously moved forward with the $16 million plan, asking for financing options from the county administrator. The board also voted to look into renovating the old Fred’s building for the DA’s staff.

No action was taken on the other two projects, except for asking for representatives of the projects to deliver a report.

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