$40M upgrade could be coming to Florence County judicial system

$40M upgrade could be coming to Florence County judicial system

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Higher taxes and more demolition could be on the way in downtown Florence, as plans for a new courthouse are in the works.

"It's one of the top five most dangerous courthouses in America," said James Schofield, Florence County council vice chairman.

Florence County is seriously looking into building a new courthouse.

"The hallways are about six feet wide, and only 30 to 40 feet long. You have two or three hundred people going up to the 11th and 12th floors for jury duty you have 80 people out on bond standing in the hallways," Schofield said.

Preliminary renderings show the courthouse won't be too far from where the current one sits, which is located in the Florence County Complex.

"Basically, the entire block here, across from the complex and the reason we bought this land is because it enables us to build a judicial building and put that function across the street, separate from the general government," Schofield said.

Right now, the selected block is currently home to law offices and other businesses. The county picked up the entire block for $3 million. Those buildings would be demolished if county council approves the plans after three readings.

Schofield said using this land is the cheapest option for building the facility.

If built, taxpayers are looking at a three-mill increase which is just about $12 extra per year, on a $100,000 home.

The total construction of the two-story building will cost $30 million, but after architectural fees and other costs are thrown in, the final price tag will be $40 million.

April 16, county council members will vote whether to allot funding for more architectural work to be put into this project.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.