This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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Building the courts: Kind of like getting socks for Christmas
…You gotta have ‘em, but you’re not exactly going to jump for joy when you open the box.
Last night, City Council members talked about the challenges they’ll face in balancing this year’s budget and building next year’s.
The proposed $60 million downtown courts complex is not going to directly affect next year’s buget, but it’s a big project on the horizon, whose debt service would start showing up in the 2011 budget.
In the middle of all of this talk, Councilman Matt Kelly said he didn’t believe the courts would be a revenue generator for the city. He noted the cost, on top of the other pressures on the budget and declared, "We cannot afford it."
Kelly’s colleagues declined to get into a big discussion of the courts project last night. They’ll do that on Dec. 2, and between now and then, they’re meeting in private groups of ones and twos with Circuit Court Judge Gordon Willis to hear him make the case for new facilities.
Mayor Tom Tomzak has already met with Willis. He said Willis emphasized the need for new facilities to better serve customers and to provide more modern security. (This is not new. See here for some background.) Tomzak also said Willis is more optimistic that keeping the courts downtown would have a positive economic impact.
The courts project envisioned for the Post Office site on Princess Anne Street would also include some private office and retail space and a residential component.
"We have not picked a time to do this project," Vice Mayor Kerry Devine said at Tuesday night’s meeting. "It’s not a want, it’s a need."
Look for more next month.