WASHINGTON COUNTY Washington County officials are holding their breath until this evening, when lawmakers pass the proposed state budget. Right now it includes money for a new county courthouse. The new facility will replace the old historic courthouse, which is practically unsalvageable.
Washington County officials shut-down the courthouse in December, after health officials condemned it. The building, which is one of the oldest courthouses in the state, is full of mold.
County officials say it will cost about 5-million to clan, repair and renovate. A new facility will cost only a few million more. The state is tentatively budgeting 9-point-2 million dollars for the project.
"It was just unbelievable that it got funded,” said Washington County Acting Clerk of Court, Harold Bazzel. “But on the other side to that it could evaporate tomorrow if the governor doesn't sign it."
Two things must happen for the county to get the money. The legislature must include the appropriation in their proposed budget hen the session ends Friday night. And Gov. Rick Scott has to sign it.
"We really don't know what’s gonna happen,” Bazzel said. I mean we're cautiously optimistic but we really don't know what's gonna happen."
If the project is vetoed, Bazzell says the county would have to raise taxes to come up with the money for a new courthouse or renovations on the old one.
"This is critical. I mean you got to have a place to conduct court and provide justice to your community."
Right now the courts are conducting business in the county annex building in Chipley. The legislature should pass the proposed budget at 8:00 central time tonight