Now is not time for building $33 million courthouse

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By The Staff

With our economy spiraling downward every day, I cannot believe that Lancaster County Council is moving forward with construction plans for a monumental multi-million dollar courthouse facility. They remind me of Nero who was said to have fiddled while Rome burned. We, in Lancaster County, are in a financial crisis along with the rest of our nation. Major industries have closed or relocated, leaving thousands trying to survive on unemployment benefits. State, local and school budgets have been cut which will impact the services we receive and education. Many who still have jobs are having their pay or hours cut. Those who thought they were financially secure have lost their homes, savings and are now desperate. The unemployment rate has reached an all-time high while prices and taxes continue to escalate. Most of us are having difficulty in paying for the basics in life with no predictions of the economy improving.

We should have been allowed to vote on whether we did or did not want a new courthouse. Only after County Council had made the decision to construct this grand building were we given the opportunity to vote on how we would be taxed to pay for it. Surely, there are other alternatives for providing ample and secure court space without starting such a mammoth and expensive project until the economy improves. There are vacant buildings all over Lancaster and more may become available as Founders completes their new corporate center complex. County Council should research and pursue every possible alternative to building a new facility. Insurance will pay for repairs and restoration of our present courthouse which can still be used for offices. If the courtroom on the second floor does not provide adequate space an annex could be built to the side or rear of the present courthouse providing adequate space and security.

It’s been stated that a Charlotte construction firm is being considered for building this new courthouse. If this construction is to become reality, with or without public approval, every construction business in Lancaster County should be considered for the project first. Our money should not be sent out of state or county when we have qualified and skilled people here who need jobs.

The economic outlook is bleak and not predicted to improve any time soon. This is not the time for spending $33 million dollars on a courthouse. Whether it’s called depression or recession, times are hard and members of County Council should start thinking and living in the real world.

Patsy H. Dabney