What a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote means on courthouse referendum

Published 12:41 pm Saturday, October 21, 2017

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, voters in Franklin and Southampton County will have to answer a very simple question when marking their ballots:

“Shall the courthouse be removed to 30100 Camp Parkway, Courtland, Virginia, and shall the Board of Supervisors be permitted to spend $26,500,000.00 therefor?”

A “yes” vote means that you do in fact want the courthouse rebuilt at the new location. A “no” vote obviously means that you don’t. But a “no” vote doesn’t mean that city and county taxpayers are off the hook. It means that the existing courthouse will be renovated in its current location, and that renovation will come with a price tag nearly as hefty as new construction at a different location.

The current estimate provided by the architectural firm retained to provide options for both new construction and renovation peg the cost of renovating the existing courthouse at $26.2 million, just a shade less than the cost of a newly constructed courthouse. Some are convinced minimal changes that would satisfy the state’s judicial system could be made to the current courthouse for a reduced price. The judges who are mandating the changes suggest otherwise.

We have not, and likely will not, stake out a position on this issue as a compelling argument can be made for the benefits of either outcome. However, referendums can often be confusing to voters, and we want to be sure our readers know what they are in fact voting for when they cast their ballots.