Will County Board capital improvement plans include new Courthouse building

7 year building plan includes new courthouse, sheriff's office, Health Dept.

12/16/2015, 3:54 p.m.
The Will County Board is developing a new $225 million plan to fund construction of a new courthouse, sheriff's office, ...
Will County Board members were evenly split along party lines when it came to a motion to trim $1.5 million from capital improvements budget.

The Will County Board is developing a new $225 million plan to fund construction of a new courthouse, sheriff's office, and health department building over the next 7 years. Construction could begin as early as 2016 and continue through 2022.

"The Board is going to move forward with a long range building plan to make the county more efficient and help meet the demands for our growing population," said County Board Speaker Jim Moustis.

"These are very important public safety needs, and along with continuing to improve and upgrade our roads, a necessary investment in our future.”

The board’s plan identifies eight revenue streams to finance the construction of four facilities over the next seven years and will still include revenue for county road projects according to a release from the county.

Under the current outline, construction on a new sheriff's office building would begin in 2016 with plans to be completed in 2017.

A new courthouse in downtown Joliet and a satellite courthouse in the northern part of the county would be built next, followed by a new the Health Department building.

"We have examined all revenue options and put together a diverse package that includes existing property and sales taxes, courthouse and user fees, special funds, bonding rebates and contributions from the City of Joliet,” said Mike Fricilone, chair of the county board's finance committee who emphasized that the capital plan does not include new taxes and only limited borrowing.

The current courthouse was built in 1969 when the county's population was 250,000. Today the county is home to nearly 700,000 residents and is projected to grow to 1.2 million over the next 30 years.

Proponents of the plan contend that the current court building with its 23 courtrooms lacks the necessary space and security. The county employs 35 judges who handle 80,000 cases annually.

In addition to the necessary room for all of its judges, the new judicial complex will house offices for the court clerk, state’s attorney, public defender, court administration, jury commission, court reporters, and probation departments.

The Board will continue discussions on the financing plan at a committee of the whole meeting on January 14 and could approve a plan around the first of the year.