Council of Governments updates on courthouse plans
Officials from local municipalities were invited to share constituent views about a new Franklin County Courthouse with the county commissioners. Bob Ziobrowski explained to members of the Council of Governments July 21 that the commissioners wanted to know what people thought at the local levels.
Plans for a new courthouse, and space to consolidate county agencies and administrative offices, has met opposition from the public. Citizens have expressed concern about the $50 million cost, the best location within Chambersburg, parking, and the need itself.
“There are a whole lot of issues I wish we could communicate better,” Ziobrowski said. “We’ve been trying; about the reasons why we’re even looking at a new courthouse.”
He and fellow commissioners Bob Thomas and David Keller devoted over two years of research to plan for the future judicial needs of the county. One study indicated that while a fifth judge was just added, Franklin County would likely need seven within 20 years. Though crime was down, most of the court cases were not criminal, but civil, said Thomas.
Both urged residents to access the website co.franklin.pa.us (click Commissioners, then Studies) to read the reports validating the need for a new facility.
Forward momentum on the project has been halted briefly so the commissioners can educate the public about the necessity of court and office expansions.
Representatives from Franklin County boroughs, townships and school boards shared the latest news on their operations. Several commented that revenue was down due to lower earned income tax and bogged development plans. Southampton Township cut some road paving projects; another township returned to tar and chip treatments instead of paving until the economy improved. Greene Township trimmed its budget by eight percent.
One offical summarized, “Like everyone else, we’re tightening our belt and doing the best we can with the money we have.”