Franklin County Board to hold vote on tax referendum to fund new courthouse

Franklin County Board to hold vote on tax referendum to fund new courthouse

FRANKLIN COUNTY — Franklin County Board Chairman Randall Crocker says the current Franklin County Courthouse in Benton has outlived its usefulness and is getting harder to keep open every day due to all the problems that plague the structure that was built in the early 1870s.

So, the County Board is looking to put a referendum on the April 2nd ballot to create a sales tax that would generate revenue for construction of a new courthouse on the square. Crocker says state statute allows for a sales tax to be created to pay for facilities like a new courthouse and nothing else.

County voters have turned down two sales tax referendums dealing with the courthouse in recent years, but Crocker hopes the third time’s a charm.

Crocker says the preliminary cost for the project will be in the $15 million range. It calls for the current courthouse on the square to be torn down with a new courthouse being built there, moving the county clerk and treasurer’s office permanently to the Campbell Building and temporarily relocating the circuit clerk’s office and all courts to the vacant antiques building on the east side of the square until the new courthouse is finished.

If the referendum passes, Crocker says work would immediately start and be finished in 24 months.

The County Board is expected to decide about the referendum at their meeting coming up on Tuesday.