Court Facility Improvement Project
A courthouse is more than just a building.
Courts are a cornerstone of our society and provide a core function of government—adjudication of legal disputes. A courthouse is a place where victims of crime come for justice and where those who are threatened with violence come for protection. It must provide secure holding cells, courtrooms, private conference rooms and separate hallways for incarcerated individuals, court staff and the public, jury assembly and deliberation rooms. Every person entering a courthouse should expect to feel safe and be secure.
Since the last major expansion of court facilities in 1979, Franklin County has had a 37% population increase and has added three judges with related support staff, Assistant District Attorneys, Public Defenders, and other court staff to a courthouse constructed for two presiding judges. Studies conducted in 2009 justified a significant expansion of court facilities, however the project was put on hold due to poor economic conditions. The county population has continued to grow, along with the need for adequate space and safer, more secure accommodations.
We are at a point where the needs of our county can no longer be delayed. As fiscal responsibility remains our goal, much deliberation has gone into the proposed project to ensure the most efficient and effective use of tax dollars to meet the impending needs of Franklin County residents.
- Franklin County Courthouse – construction of a new 108,113 gross sq ft Courthouse to house: courtrooms, Judges’ chambers and supporting staff, detainer holding cells, secure sally port, Register & Recorder, Sheriff’s Office, Clerk of Courts, Prothonotary - $35.8M
- Historic Courthouse and Courthouse Annex – minor renovation of the historic Courthouse and 45,000 sf Courthouse Annex to house: Magisterial District Justice, Juvenile Probation, Domestic Relations, Adult Probation, Public Defender and District Attorney - $6.25M
- Administrative Annex – 47,048 gross sq ft renovation and expansion of the Administrative Annex on N. Second Street to house: Commissioners, the Treasurer, Fiscal, Human Resources, Information Services, Planning - $9.5M Archive building – construction of 14,623 gross sq ft – $3M
Total Courthouse and Administrative Project Costs – $67.7M including all fees, owner administrative costs and project contingency. A bond can be used to pay for the project over 20 years, increasing debt service millage by 1.5 mills—approximately $29.00 a year for an average Franklin County homeowner.
Safety & Security – This is a major concern of utmost importance. Difficulty in keeping victims, witnesses, jurors, defendants, judges, attorneys and the public separated threatens our ability to administer justice and costs taxpayers more than necessary.
Co-location – Court-related offices are fragmented and spread out around the Greater Chambersburg Area at 7 different locations. Consolidating most operations to one downtown campus increases accessibility and reduces expenses by approximately $8M over 20 years.
Cost-effectiveness – The current buildings do not provide a secure environment; adding costly staff will improve but not correct security concerns. The former Chambersburg Trust Building is not ADA compliant and, after review, it is not cost-effective to retrofit it for court purposes.
Questions & Comments
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