Inflation increasing cost of new judicial center $3 million a year

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

The cost of a new judicial center will climb about $3 million a year if economic conditions just remain the same as they have over the past three years, according to county officials.

After a presentation on raising $37 million to build the courthouse on a site near the Minden Town Yard off Buckeye, commissioners are being asked to adopt a resolution Thursday notifying the Debt Management Commission of the proposal.

Debt managers voted 3-2 to reject a previous proposal on Aug. 23, expressing issues over the overall cost and the means of financing.

Estimates are the cost of the center is now at $50 million and officials predict that will increase about 6 percent a year under current economic conditions.

Estimates are that expanding the current Judicial & Law Enforcement Center with a parking garage went from $47.3 million in 2020 to $60 million in today’s dollars.

Bonding to build the center can’t result in a property tax rate increase, as the county is already at the state-mandated $3.64 per $100 assessed valuation. Nevada assesses property tax based on value, which means an individual owner’s actual property tax bill can increase as their property increases in value.

Medium term bonds must be paid off in 10 years and are being used to pay off the Douglas County Community & Senior Center in Gardnerville. The county has a 5-cent capital improvement tax which was used for the first 10 years on the Community Center that has since been paid off.

The county’s courts and clerks are housed in the second story of the Judicial & Law Enforcement Center, built in 1982 when the county was home to around 20,000 people. Forty years later, there are around 52,000 residents in Douglas County. The center also houses the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Probation, Alternative Sentencing and the jail.

Commissioners will also discuss the possibility of eliminating the Tahoe Township in order to combine the county’s two justice courts.

According to the county, Douglas County’s population as of July 1, 2022, was certified at 52,674. Under Nevada law, a justice of the peace is allocated for every 50,000 residents or any portion thereof.

East Fork Justice Court handled around twice the dispositions that Tahoe Township did in fiscal year 2022. There were 1,035 criminal filings in East Fork and 437 in Tahoe Township, while civil findings were 440 for East Fork and 89 at Lake Tahoe.

If county commissioners were to approve combining the two townships, that would affect judicial election filing in the first weeks of January. With the townships combined, voters in both the Valley and the Lake would vote on both seats.


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