A federal loan has been secured to fund much of the project.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County officials are edging closer toward construction of a $3.6 million municipal court building.
County commissioners approved a resolution Wednesday to request proposals from architects interested in designing the nearly 20,000-square-foot structure.
A decision on where to build the new courthouse is expected before the end of the year, said Judge Robert Roberts of the county municipal court.
"We're actively working on it," Judge Roberts said. He and the other county municipal judge, Mark Frost, have the final authority on where the courthouse will be built, though both judges have said they're seeking input from other county officials.
Four sites in and around Lisbon are being considered for the location, Judge Roberts said.
The judges have declined to specify the potential sites because they fear doing so could raise the properties' asking prices.
Officials say they hope the courthouse design is completed by January 2003. They want construction to begin by spring 2003.
A federal loan has been secured to fund much of the project. But the county also will be using money from a nearly $400,000 special fund that has been collected in recent years.
The fund is fueled by a $10 fee attached to court costs for criminal and traffic offenses.
The nearly $400,000 already in hand is expected to be used to buy the land on which to build the courthouse.
Future fee revenue will be used to pay off the federal loan for the building's construction.
The county wants a new municipal court building to replace the three separate municipal courtrooms operating in storefronts in Salem, Lisbon and East Palestine.
The rented courtrooms will close and the new courthouse will allow for a centralized court staff.
A centralized municipal courthouse could reduce the municipal court's staff size, officials have said.