County allocated state matching funds for new courthouse

With statewide recognition for the need for a modern courthouse that meets best practice standards for safety, access and services, Benton County was placed on a priority list by the Association of Oregon Counties-Oregon Judicial Department Courthouse Task Force five years ago. Benton County collaborated with the Oregon Judicial Department, to apply for state matching funds for a new courthouse from the Oregon Capital Construction and Improvement Fund.

The matching funds enable the state to pay for half of the cost to build a new courthouse. A mandated service, building a new County courthouse to meet the needs of current and future Benton County residents is critical. The Historic Benton County Courthouse was built in 1888 and is no longer capable of meeting current accessibility, safety and trauma-informed services standards. It will be repurposed for other uses.

Through HB 5006, the 2021 State Legislature approved a 50% match of approximately $20.4 million to the County. The new courthouse is one of four new facilities proposed for the County’s Justice System Improvement Program. The award of these state matching resources is contingent upon the County demonstrating the ability to provide its equal share of the project cost.

On Tuesday, December 7, the Board of Commissioners agreed to fund the County’s $20.4 million in matching funds for the new courthouse using a combination of budget reserves and borrowing, enabling the project to advance as originally contemplated. The Board’s decision will enable the County to execute an agreement with the state to receive an official award of the resources so that design work on the new courthouse may begin in 2022.