Archive for Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fate of sales tax for new courthouse, coroner facility lies in hands of Johnson County voters

May 31, 2016

This fall, Johnson County voters will determine whether to raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent for a new courthouse and coroner facility.

The Board of County Commissioners recently approved a question for the November general election ballot asking voters to authorize a quarter-cent public safety sales tax to fund construction of the two new buildings.

If passed, the 10-year sales tax would go into effect April 1, 2017.

The public safety sales tax would fund a new 28-courtroom courthouse across the street from the existing location on Santa Fe and Cherry Street in downtown Olathe, and a new coroner facility near the county’s crime lab at 119th Street and Ridgeview in Olathe.

The estimated cost of a new courthouse is $182 million.

If the public safety sales tax does not pass, the county would renovate and add on to the existing courthouse, costing an estimated $216 million.

The county says that while costing $34 million more, the renovation project would not adequately solve all of the courthouse’s current problems with safety and security, accessibility and lack of space for future growth.

The sales tax revenue would also pay for a coroner facility estimated at a cost of $19 million.

As of now, autopsies are performed in a nonaccredited facility in Wyandotte County, since Johnson County does not have its own coroner facility.

A new facility would provide real-time data reporting for epidemics and crime, resulting in opportunities for quicker county response to potential public health issues and emerging crime trends, the county says.

It also states that the new buildings would increase safety and plan for future growth, as the county adds 10,00 residents each year.

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