ST. GEORGE – Washington County may soon have a new office building for the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a new building for the Washington County Justice Court and a facelift for its administration building.
“We’re going to be playing musical buildings for a little while,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said.
Once the Habitat Conservation Plan permit is renewed, it is likely that the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve offices will be moved to a new building on property near the Red Hills Desert Garden, Iverson said.
“Then it could be very much a public, educational type facility along with their HCP administration,” he said.
The county has been working towards renewal of the Habitat Conservation Plan, which expired March 14. The plan set aside 62,000 acres for the protected tortoise and allowed development to continue on tortoise habitat in other parts of Washington County.
The building that currently houses the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, located at 10 N. 100 East in St. George, would be torn down and a new two-story Justice Courthouse built on that location.
The county Justice Court is currently in a building at 87 N. 200 East in St. George. It housed a furniture store before it housed the court and is not well-suited for court functions, Iverson said.
“You really wouldn’t want an active shooter situation up there,” he said.
A new building would simplify things for the public, he said.
The Washington County Justice Court handles traffic tickets from the City of St. George and the county and recently contracted with the Town of Leeds as well. The Justice Court also has the authority to deal with class B and C misdemeanors, violations of ordinances, small claims and infractions committed within their territorial jurisdiction.
County officials have considered building a big new county administration building that would house both the county offices and the Justice Court, Iverson said. The current building just turned 50 years old.
“But we’re kind of getting away from that idea,” Iverson said.
“It’s really good not to have a justice court in an administration building, … you have to have everybody walking through metal detectors just to come do simple transactions.”
County officials are planning to stay in the old County Administration Building for another 10 years and will be giving the building a face-lift.
Past commissions have been saving money for a new building, Iverson said, but pulling the trigger on the $22 million project has been difficult.
“Our general fund, it’s fine, but it is a little tight and we haven’t raised taxes in almost 20 years,” Iverson said. “So I would hate to go through a truth-in-taxation (hearing) when I’m sitting in a nice, brand new, shiny office.”
To start the process of refurbishing the old building, commissioners approved a $9,000 proposal from Kasi Miller Designs of St. George for interior design work at a commission meeting Thursday.
“We decided that we needed a little help when it came to picking out paints and different things,” Iverson said. “We’re not exactly good interior designers. I’m sure the public will appreciate the building when it’s spruced up a little bit more.”
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