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Time to find alternatives for courthouse

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By The Staff

The Russians didn’t just invade Georgia – they cruised on up the interstate and seemed to have settled in Lancaster.

After the terrible courthouse fire and troubling solicitor’s office blaze we read in The Lancaster News about SLED agents sniffing around trying to get people to inform on their neighbors and Steve Willis trying to get $12,000 so his mother might think about turning him in for the crime.

But the important question that seems to have been brush-broomed away is the original issue of a new courthouse.

The issue has now been settled. We need a new one – $33 million please. Unfortunately this makes the prime suspects those who would benefit from a $33 million foray into the wallets of Lancaster County taxpayers.

The options seem only to build a new one by property tax increase or by spreading the wealth with bonds paid by a penny sales tax increase. The choices are getting fewer and more expensive.

What is the cost to repair the old one? I think it’s a fair question for an average Joe to ask. Who is pushing to encumber this county with a debt equal to our annual operating budget for a facility that at best administers to less than a few percent of our total population.

A big courthouse is big business. For a county that is heavily agricultural it most likely will just serve to attract the wrong kind of people.

So our County Council may be being pressured into increasing our tax load in an already stressful economic time. It’s possible we may have to tighten our belts and do with a little less courthouse for the next few years.

But who is proposing other alternatives? Lucky they know what the average citizen wants. Besides, where would they build it? Up in Indian Land where all the people are or out in Kershaw where the property is less expensive?

There seems to be several big box buildings that could be converted to serve while we preserve our courthouse heritage. It’s terrible about the fires, but luckily no one was hurt.

Michael Mitchum

Lancaster