$2.4 million spending plan for Justice Building under scrutiny

A view of the Kosciusko County Justice Building with the courthouse in the background. File photo.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Apparently, some people are not keen on spending $2.4 to replace carpet, wallpaper and paint in the Kosciusko County Justice Building in Warsaw.

The county commissioners have planned for months to use $2.4 million in American Rescue funds to cover the cost of interior upgrades on the 43-year-old building.

Some county council members on Thursday seemed startled by the price tag and the fact that the county has never had a phased-in approach to such maintenance matters.

On Thursday, the commissioners were seeking approval to use the ARPA money, but the council slowed down the process.

“I’ll be honest with you,” said Council member Joni Truex. “I’ve already gotten pushback from the public. $2.4 million is just ridiculous, it really is.”

Council member Kimberly Cates followed up on comments by Truex.

“The reason we’re in this situation is because we didn’t stagger maintenance five years and 10 years and do a little bit at a time. It seems like, we do this all at once and we’re going to have the same problem in 10 years,” Cates said.

Commissioner Cary Groninger, who presented the request said phased-in maintenance can have complications, and pointed to the chance to save money.

“The other thing that I would say with that is if you’re looking from a cost perspective, you’re always going to get your best price when you’re buying in value and you’re doing a larger project,” he said.

Sue Ann Mitchell, a county council member who sits on the ARPA committee, approved the recommendation at the ARPA meeting but was also critical and urged the county to embrace a maintenance plan.

The $2.4 million figure is an estimate from a consultant who was hired to help coordinate the entire project.

The county has not yet sought bids for the work.

The County council voted Thursday to table the issue until they can see bids on the project.