Lawrence M. Walsh
Court fee to help finance new Will Co. courthouse (The SouthtownStar, 8/29/14)
By Susan DeMar Lafferty firstname.lastname@example.org
A proposed new Will County Courthouse got its first source of funding Wednesday when Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law allowing the county to adopt a “judicial facilities fee.”
The legislation was the idea of Circuit Court Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt, who called it a “classic user’s fee.”
The county will charge a fee up to $30 on civil and criminal cases that require a court appearance. The revenue can be used only for construction of a new courthouse and is estimated to generate between $1.5 million and $2 million per year.
Schoenstedt and other county officials have said the current courthouse in downtown Joliet, built in 1969, lacks sufficient space and is not as secure as needed.
County officials hired Darien-based Wight and Co. to analyze the county’s needs and plan a new courthouse, which is estimated to cost between $140 million and $200 million.
The county bought the First Midwest Bank building across the street from the existing courthouse and may demolish it to clear the site for the new courthouse.
State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, was the chief sponsor of the fee legislation, which received bipartisan support.
State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Crest Hill, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said in a news release that the new fee will help Will County build a “badly needed new courthouse.”