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Will taxpayers support plan to repair and renovate the Pima County Courthouse?

Valerie Cavazos

Will taxpayers support plan to repair and renovate the Pima County Courthouse?

By Valerie Cavazos. CREATED Jul 30, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- It's one of the Old Pueblo's most recognizable structures. The mosaic dome above the historic courthouse downtown is in need of repair.

And it's up to the taxpayers to decide if this is the right time.  

The dome in downtown Tucson, an artistic centerpiece for decades, is wearing down. And the county is finding it harder to keep pace with leaks. "So it's time to fix those things before it gets any worse," said Reid Spaulding, Director of the Pima County Facilities Management Department.

And time is a factor because changes are in store for the courthouse.  The county is moving three elected officials and courtroom staff to the new courthouse across the street.

"That will essentially empty out the building. I personally don't want a vacant building because they become targets for vandalisim," said Spaulding.

To fill the vacant spaces, the county is considering moving the offices of the Board of Supervisors and County Administrator to the second floor, restoring one of the historic courtrooms, where the infamous bank robber John Dilinger and his gang was once arraigned, and turning the first floor into space for both a Western Art Museum and a permanent January 8th Memorial.

"This is the location. This is the heart of the community. This is where local government comes together," said Stephen Brigham, president of the January 8th Memorial Foundation.

County officials are preparing to submit the restoration proposal to the county bond advisory committee. The total estimated restoration cost -- 20 to 25 million dollars.

But the January 8th Memorial Foundation doesn't expect the taxpayers to foot the entire bill. "We are also sensitive to the fact that we have a responsibility to do some fund raising to reduce the taxpayers burden on funding us," said Brigham.

And that's if this restoration proposal even makes it on the November 2014 Bond Ballot.

The bond committee is expected to spend the next several months reviewing this and more than 100 other proposals worth $1.3 billion dollars.

Taxpayers have a chance to weigh in by taking the bond survey on the Pima County website.