$70 Million Courthouse Renovation Takes Small Step Forward

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email

It's down to two plans for the Marathon County Courthouse rennovation. The County Board won't choose a plan until December, but either way the project is moving forward.

You probably won't see any big changes for the next 5 years. Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger says that's because the county is thinking long term. The plan will be implemented over the next 25 years and the County Executive Committee will split the project into two smaller portions. One will be a renovation making room for a new courtroom and added security. The other will expand the jail.

"Our top priority is trying to avoid that jail expansion. That jail expansion will cost $30 million, or somewhere in the range of $30 million. Plus, it will have a $3 million operating cost," Karger explained.

The County plans to buy time by focusing on alternatives to incarceration. Currently they are sending inmates to the Lincoln County jail. But Karger says that if the current pattern persists, the County will be forced to expand.

Splitting the project into two smaller renovations will also break up the project's giant cost into more manageable chunks.

"There's no new funding for that. That funding, it would come out of property taxes or it would come out of programs that people enjoy like parks and libraries and museums," Karger told NewsChannel 7.

Karger says that although the renovation may eventually result in raising taxes, he doesn't foresee the increase being that much. He adds that taxes in Marathon County have remained consistent for the last 15 years.

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