On Tuesday, Feburary 4, 2020, the Board of County Commissioners of Thurston County adopted Ordinance Nos. 15840 and 15846 concerning property taxes for a new courthouse and administrative buildings.
To finance construction of buildings to consolidate County offices, including payments on bonds, and other County purposes, this proposal would increase the County’s 2021 regular property tax levy to a total authorized rate of $1.56 per $1,000 valuation (an estimated increase of $.47 per $1,000 over the 2020 levy) exempting qualified seniors/disabled/veterans from the levy, and use the 2021 levy as the base for subsequent levy limitations for a total of 25 years.
The cost to build the new facilities is approximately $250 million. Thurston County citizens will vote April 28, 2020, whether to approve the tax increase to fund this project. If approved, the property tax on a $300,000 house would be about $12 more per month.
Over the past 18 months, leadership from Thurston County and the City of Olympia have been working collaboratively on a project to build a new Courthouse and Regional Administrative Buildings.
The Courthouse Complex buildings in their current state are at the end of their useful life, costing significant taxpayer dollars to maintain and operate. The current layout and design also makes it difficult for citizens to locate important County resources and services in a timely manner. The success of this project will improve and consolidate services, as well as promote long-term cost savings, improved access, and increased consistencies across County offices and departments.
As financial stewards of citizen tax dollars, Thurston County's elected leaders are committed to meeting the needs of our growing community while promoting economic vitality. With an investment in a new or reconstructed courthouse and civic center, the County can modernize its facilities, consolidate services in a customer first manner, invoke civic pride in our community, and provide opportunities for economic revitalization to the area.
Through a feasibility study, leadership explored reconstructing and expanding the existing campus and buildings, and building a new Courthouse and Regional Administrative Buildings elsewhere within the City Limits of Olympia. The Board of County Commissioners narrowed down three of 12 potential sites to be evaluated. These sites included the current Hilltop site, a undeveloped piece of property on Harrison Street, and the City of Olympia's Leigh Crieghton Justice Center location on Plum Street.
The goal of the feasibility study was to research and analyze information about each of the three sites with a focus as to which site would be the most preferred by the Thurston County community. Thomas Architecture Studios, Inc. (TAS), the selected consulting company, evaluated issues such as customer service, economic development, life cycle costs, environmental sustainability, safety, parking, and transit services.