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Halifax County supervisors order preliminary courthouse work

SoVaNow.com / February 07, 2013
Halifax County supervisors on Monday night directed County Administrator Jim Halasz to seek bids for architectural and engineering services for the renovation of the historic — but dilapidated and outdated — Halifax County Courthouse.

The supervisors’ action followed a closed session Monday night that came almost two weeks after board members heard a presentation on the courthouse at their annual Strategic Planning session. At that time, a representative with CJMW Architecture discussed a courthouse needs study and possible renovations, but offered no cost estimates for the work.

During the Jan. 24 strategic retreat, Sheriff Fred Clark spoke to supervisors about the needs of his department, which is located in the wing of the courthouse complex that previously housed the county jail. That portion of the building is slated for demolition, prompting the department’s relocation.

The needs study also calls for a new circuit courtroom, separate entrances for courthouse staff, detainees and inmates and the general public, and other steps to increase overall security and accessibility.

Board Finance Chairman Doug Bowman said the board will await bids before discussing the cost of renovations. Bowman explained that the finance committee, which includes himself, J.T. Davis and William Fitzgerald, held its first meeting on Monday afternoon to begin the annual budgeting process. After reviewing both revenues and requests from all county departments, the panel is facing a $5 million gap for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, 2013.

The sharpest jump in requested funding, he said, is coming from the school system, which has asked for $16,630,000 in local funding in the coming budget year. That represents a rise of more than $3.5 million over this year’s contribution of $13,150,000.

Bowman said requests from various county departments include no salary increases and no increased contributions to employees’ health insurance, which he fears will increase over the coming year.

“We simply are not going to be able to fund all the requests this year,” Bowman said, noting that the finance committee expects to have a recommended budget to present to the full board at its March 4 meeting.



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