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Augusta County prices two options for courthouse

Timothy Fitzgerald speaks at podium
Augusta County Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald presents two options for a new circuit courthouse during a Wednesday press conference. (Photos: Randi B. Hagi/WMRA)

Randi B. Hagi/WMRA

In November, Augusta County citizens will vote on whether to rebuild their courthouse, currently located in Staunton, or build a new one in Verona.

Now, there's a price tag for each option.

The Augusta County Board of Supervisors announced during a Wednesday press conference that it would cost more than $103 million to rebuild the courthouse in Staunton and $80 million to build one in Verona. The Staunton option costs more, in part, because the current general district courthouse must be demolished before the rebuild. It's also more difficult to build in a confined city location, and a temporary courthouse would be needed during construction.

County Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald noted that the cost estimates include everything from construction to site work and furnishing the buildings.

"2016's cost, you may remember, was $45 million. That was the construction cost only. This is a full project cost," Fitzgerald said.

Back in 2016, a referendum asked residents whether the courthouse should be moved to Verona. Voters defeated it two to one, as the News Leader in Staunton reported. But in September 2021, the Augusta County Circuit C ourt order ed the Board of Supervisors to do something, because the current facilities are "insecure, out of repair, or otherwise pose a danger to … health, welfare, and safety."

Negotiations between Augusta County and the city of Staunton over renovating the existing circuit courthouse, which was built in 1901, have become increasingly strained during the past six years. One attendee at the Wednesday press conference asked board chairperson Gerald Garber how permits would be approved to build in Staunton.

"I'm here to play nice today, so I won't even go there … . [T]hat would be more difficult," Garber said.

Either project could increase taxes for county residents, although Garber said it's too early to say by how much. The current real estate tax rate is 63 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Read the original story at the WMRA website.


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