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Bonds fund courthouse projects

"Island County's new Law & Justice Building in Coupeville is nearly finished. Staff are expected to start occupying the building in about six weeks, according to Public Works Director Larry Kwarsick.Jim Larsen / staff photoThe money will keep flowing for the county's courthouse improvement project thanks to a $5 million bond sale approved Monday by the Island County Commissioners.The project started some 15 years ago with property acquisition and is well along at this point. The project's first phase, the new Law & Justice Building, is almost finished, according to Public Works Director Larry Kwarsick.We're just weeks away from substantial completion, he said Tuesday.The total project cost is around $13 million, paid for over time with half the proceeds from the real estate excise tax. The $5 million approved Monday will renovate the old courthouse building, which will allow the county commissioners to move into the former Superior Court space. An earthquake retrofit is included. The courthouse annex building will be renovated in a later phase of the project. You're financing the final aspects of the project, Kwarsick told commissioners Bill Thorn, Mac McDowell and Mike Shelton. Interest rate on the bonds is 5.09 percent.Some time late next year, construction of the new Juvenile Justice Building will begin, paid for with a sales tax increase approved by voters several years ago.Kwarsick said the complex project is proceeding smoothly, with the Law & Justice Building on budget and ahead of schedule. But moving county employees around as renovations begin or new structures are finished is difficult. Shuffling people around is the hardest part of it, he said.The next shuffle will be undertaken by the Island County Auditor, whose offices in the old courthouse will soon undergo refurbishing. The Auditor's staff that deals with the public in such matters as automobile title transfers, land recordings and elections will temporarily move to 300 North Main. To facilitate the move, the office will be closed March 26-27. "

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