MAHONING COUNTY Plan for court move to annex falls flat

Discussions with the city have dragged on too long, a county official said.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Plans to renovate the former city hall annex and make it home of the 7th District Court of Appeals have apparently fallen through.
Gary Kubic, Mahoning County administrator, said the county has taken its eyes off the building at Market and Front streets and begun to look elsewhere for court space.
The county had been working with Youngstown City Council and the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corporation on a deal to move the appellate court from the fourth floor of the courthouse and into the annex across the street, which the city planned to renovate.
Too dragged out: "The discussions, quite frankly, have taken too long," Kubic said. "Our focus is to satisfy the needs of the court quickly."
The four appellate court judges have long complained that they are badly in need of office space for themselves and their staff. Commissioners are charged with providing the court with space.
Kubic said commissioners had hoped the annex proposal would work out because they want to keep the court downtown, near the county courthouse and two federal courthouses.
He did not say the annex proposal is completely gone, but said the project "is much less likely to happen now than it was six months ago."
A private developer had submitted a proposal of some $4 million to renovate the building and make it suitable for the court, the Mahoning-Columbiana Training Association and the city's Community Development Agency.
Budget concerns: Judges bristled at facing at least double the $56,000 a year the court pays now for its space. They said they need affordable space without causing a financial hardship on the eight counties that make up the appellate district.
"I am not going to go for any plan that is going to sock it to those counties that don't have the money to pay," said Administrative Judge Joseph Vukovich. "We're not here to gouge the taxpayers."
Kubic said now that the annex is fading from the picture, commissioners will look for a way to find more office space for the court of appeals in the courthouse. Judge Vukovich said that's a good way to go because it solves the space needs while saving the taxpayers money.
Private buildings: The only other option is to seek proposals from private building owners and move the court somewhere outside the courthouse. The concern is that it could be outside the downtown district, or even outside the county, Kubic and Judge Vukovich said.

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