Franklin County leaders renew push for new courthouse - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Franklin County leaders renew push for new courthouse

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BENTON, Ill. -- The Franklin County Courthouse was built in 1875.

143 years later, it has some issues.

"We've had a lot of shingles blown off of it in the last year," Franklin County board chairman Randall Crocker said. "The building has just one elevator which is not ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant."

Crocker says it's time for a new courthouse.

"It's becoming a bigger struggle everyday to keep the building open and do the business that it's designed to do," Crocker said.

He said repairs to the building would cost at least $130,000 but he'd rather put money into a new courthouse to avoid any other issues.

But voters shot down two referendums-- in 2015 and 2017-- that would have raised the sales tax in order to raise money for a courthouse.

Franklin County Circuit Clerk Jim Muir has some ideas to make a tax increase more palatable.

"The county board needs to come up with an exact amount of money," Muir said. "They need to come up with an exact location, where it's going to be built, and they need to have a definite plan in place on what's going to happen to the old courthouse because this old courthouse is very important to the city of Benton."

He said the courthouse is too cramped.

"You have high-pressure court cases. You have high-emotion court cases and you literally have the prisoners walking in beside the victim's family," Muir said. "Clearly it's a recipe for disaster."

Crocker agrees and plans to communicate more about the issue so voters know how bad it is before another sales tax proposal.

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