Thomas County Courthouse workers say they need more space. A special purpose local option sales tax could be the answer. A one percent sales tax could be part of the next referendum.
The Thomas County Courthouse may have been the perfect size when it was built in 1858, but times have changed and this historic courthouse is too small for the current court activities. County commissioners have hired an architect to design a new courthouse and renovate the current one.
David Hutchings, Clerk of Courts, says, "I think he's done a very good study of what we need security-wise, what we need space-wise, and what we need for the future."
The entire courthouse plan would cost the county $20 million. They could pay for it with 20 mils of property tax, but county manager Mike Stephensen says, "The current building is just not adequate for the needs of a modern day court system. A sales tax is a much better way to fund large capitol projects."
But the county commission still has to vote on whether they will propose a referendum in March that would let voters decide if they want to raise the sales tax in Thomas County from six percent to seven.
The Chamber of Commerce says 30 percent or more of Thomas County sales tax collections are from outside the county, so if the referendum passes, about a third of the entire new courthouse bill will be paid by county visitors.
County commissioners say they'll vote to propose a March or June referendum after the holidays.