Some $37 million has been earmarked in the new state budget to build a new Scott County Judicial Center.
“This is awesome,” said Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington. “it is certainly good news for Scott County.”
Rep. Phillip Pratt, R-Georgetown, was instrumental in securing the funding in the House budget, Covington said and Circuit Judge Jeremy Mattox agreed.
“Rep. Pratt deserves a lot of credit,” Mattox said. “He really carried the ball for us. Of course, Sen. (Damon) Thayer was important in the Senate, but you’ve got to get it into the House budget.”
The judicial center was a priority for Pratt in this session.
“Despite the state’s difficult financial situation, I am happy we were able to invest dollars of our budget in areas that could move this state forward,” Pratt said. “This new building is greatly needed for the community due to the vastly growing population and the high volume of cases.”
Pratt, Rep. Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge, Rep. Mark Hart, R-Cynthiana and Sen. Thayer along with Mattox were all instrumental, Covington said.
“It was a team effort,” he said.
“Due to the growing population and increased caseloads, this new facility is much-needed, and I appreciate Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington and Circuit Judge Jeremey Mattox for their tireless advocacy,” Thayer said.
The current judicial center is no longer adequate for the county’s needs, said Mattox.
“We can’t hold more than one circuit court hearing at a time, even though we have two circuit judges,” he said. “We don’t have adequate office space for judges, the drug court doesn’t have proper facilities, the law library is not adequate, there is no space for visiting attorneys….we just need more space.”
Although the Kentucky governor has line-item veto power, Gov. Andy Beshear is not expected to oppose the funding as Scott County is the state’s fastest growing county and is projected to continue to grow substantially in the years ahead.
The state will actually pay for the judicial center, but the county’s bonding capacity will be required to get the project started. Once the budget is officially passed, Covington will appoint a project development board consisting of himself and several members of the Scott County judicial system.
Among the decisions to be made will be location.
“I believe it has to be downtown,” Covington said. “It just makes sense.”
The funding approval also gives the county flexibility regarding consideration to build a new sheriff’s office among other needs, he said.
“That’s why we have held off on some of our projects,” Covington said. “This will give us flexibility and a chance to repurpose that space.”
Mike Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.