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Santa Rosa County puts subject of new court house back on agenda

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:34 PM CDT
There have been discussions for years about building a new Santa Rosa County Court House.
And now they're starting back up.
County commissioners are talking about building a new, 32-million dollar courthouse and possibly issuing a penny sales tax to pay for it.

Those who want a new courthouse say the one that's now here in Milton is overcrowded, old and in bad shape.

Chas Posey, Gulf Breeze: "It's terrible. It's horrible. This courthouse should have been rebuilt five years ago."
Chas Posey says the facility say is in need of an upgrade, while others say it's all right.
"There were people about 20 people standing in the courtroom today. They make you sit in a row and you can't even walk to get to the judge without having to walk through people's knees."

Rachael Lamberti, Milton: "I don't know about the long lines. I don't come here very often. It didn't seem like a problem when I was in there."

Commissioners have talked about building a new facility for more than a decade.
But past attempts failed largely because of a lack of money.
On Monday, Commissioner Bob Cole asked the board to re-start those discussions.
Commissioners talked about possibly adding a half-cent or one cent sales tax as a way to fund construction.   
Some who use the courthouse have mixed feelings about the proposals.
Carlton Carter, Milton: I wouldn't mind doin' it, if it makes it look better."

Brandon Jones, Pensacola: "I don't know what they need an extra penny for. They gettin' money, no doubt about..  Want more I guess.  Suck it up till you dry!"
An assessment completed last year determined a 140,000 square foot judicial center was needed and would cost 32 million bucks.
It's estimated that a penny sales tax would raise about 13 million dollars a year.
And commissioners say the tax hike would be temporary.
They're still working out details of the plan, including where a new facility would be located.
Commissioner Jim Williamson was not able to attend this week's meetings so the board will continue discussions about a new courthouse next month.

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