OLYMPIA – Today, 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 $275,000 house would be approximately an additional $12 per month. The City of Olympia would also contribute funding.
"We are learning through surveys, open houses, and public hearings, the community has questions about the need for a new facility as well as why renovating our current Courthouse isn’t a viable option," said Board Chair John Hutchings. "We need time to answer our citizen’s questions about not only the state of the facilities, but the services the county provides and how those services are expanding with the exponential growth, and projected growth, in our county."
The current courthouse buildings are at the end of their useful life and cost significant taxpayer dollars to maintain and operate. The current layout presents challenges when delivering services for citizens who come to the different buildings in the courthouse complex. A new or updated facility will improve and consolidate services, promote long-term cost savings, and enhance access for citizens looking to do business with the various county offices and departments.
For more information about the project, including frequently asked questions, visit: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/bocc/Pages/courthouse-civic-project.aspx.