On April 30, 2019, the Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 to add a ballot proposition to increase the levy of the regular property tax to fund a new Courthouse and Regional Administrative Building during the April 28, 2020 election. The ballot requires a simple majority to pass.
If the measure passes, the new Courthouse and Regional Administrative Building would be built on the site of the old Olympia City Hall, near downtown on Plum Street. It would combine 16 County offices and departments, that are now in seven buildings, into two adjacent buildings. A central one-stop customer service desk would help people find the services, offices, and departments they are looking for. It would also replace the Olympia Municipal Justice Center, with the city and county sharing courtrooms and other facilities.
The proposition authorizes a maximum increase in the county’s levy rate of no more than $0.47 per $1,000 of assessed value. This rate would be collected for 25 years. If approved, for example, the property tax on a $300,000 house would be approximately an additional $12 per month. The City of Olympia would also contribute funding.
Over the past year, 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.