Bibb County commissioners are planning to abandon substantial renovations to the Bibb County Courthouse, with some commissioners saying even the originally planned $27 million wouldn’t fix the needed security issues. The courthouse was to be one of the biggest projects on the November special purpose local option sales tax referendum.
County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said a renovation of the courthouse to fix security problems would cost some $52 million and would eliminate all the administrative offices from the building.
The proposal would cut “courthouse and other building improvements” to $5 million, spreading $22 million to other line items, including more money for an animal shelter, storm drainage, road repairs, leased equipment, economic development, debt payments and recreation projects. The six-year SPLOST would raise $190 million if approved by voters.
Commissioner Lonzy Edwards said he would oppose the cuts to courthouse renovation.
“I think it’s a mistake not to put a more substantial sum in for the courthouse. That’s my opinion on it, and I’ll have to vote accordingly,” Edwards said.
Commissioner Elmo Richardson said he’d been talking with the architects and realized $27 million wouldn’t cure security ills. Defendants, jurors, the public, court staff and others now can be in the same part of the building.
“You’ve spent $27 million and it still doesn’t get what needs to be done,” Richardson said.
Commissioners last year sought a new courthouse, but voters soundly rejected that SPLOST proposal.
The proposal being reviewed now by county commissioners still includes $2.5 million for the Tubman African American Museum. County commissioners are trying to finalize their list before the Macon City Council tries to finalize the list at 5 p.m. Monday.
For more on this story, read Tuesday’s Telegraph or return to macon.com.