It’ll be a while until Lane County Board of Commissioners ask voters for a new courthouse. The Lane County Board of County Commissioners unanimously decided to postpone pursuing a new courthouse because of the COVID-19-related economic crisis.
“We did not make this recommendation lightly. The current courthouse remains inadequate and problematic,” said County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky in a press release. “But the project will have to wait. We simply cannot ask our community to fund a large project when so many people are facing economic uncertainty as a result of COVID-19. We have focused during the past several years on creating structurally balanced budgets and enhancing the stability of our services. It is with the same prudence that we are making this decision.”
Lane County first pitched the new courthouse in the May 2019 special election, but 58 percent of voters rejected it. Titled Measure 20-299, the county asked voters to approve a $154-million bond to build a new courthouse. If it had passed, the county would have received $94 million from the state and $4 million in federal funding.
In 2019, Commissioner Joe Berney had pushed for the courthouse to have a community benefits agreement, which would have promoted the use of local businesses, contractors and workers; ensured that jobs with the courthouse project pay a living wage and offer family health-care benefits; prioritized diversity and equity in the workplace; incorporated sustainability in the project’s design and construction; and used state or federally approved training and apprenticeship programs.
County commissioners made the decision based on the recommendation from county administration, staff, circuit court representatives, the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office. The recommendation was made in recognition of the economic challenges faced by community members, small businesses, and local employers as a result of COVID-19.