$9.2 million of the state's $77 billion 2015 budget has been set aside to help fund construction of the new Washington County Courthouse.
The action, which became law Monday, is believed to be the largest line item ever allocated by the state for county courthouse special funding.
Washington County Interim Clerk of Court Harold Bazzel, Sheriff Bobby Haddock, Judge Colby Peel, County Coordinator David Corbin, County Attorney Jeff Goodman, County Commission Chairman Alan Bush, and Commissioners Joel Pate and Todd Abbott traveled to meet with Governor Rick Scott, who was in Bay County on a campaign stop.
"I had just seen Governor Scott at the quarterly meeting of the Republican Party Friday night and asked how our courthouse was doing," said Pate. "(Gov. Scott) nodded and said it was doing good. Then we got the call Monday that he had signed off on $9.2 million in appropriations. That's a big thing for this county."
The county will begin advertising their Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for architect candidates this month and plans to hold the bid opening in July. Architect selection is expected to be made when commissioners meet in the regular July session. While a decision hasn't yet been made on site location or the general layout of the building, the county hopes to find a way to retain some of the current building's iconic features.
"The new courthouse will be a modern courthouse, but it won't be the roughly 30,000 square foot one like the old courthouse," said Pate. "Our intent is to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money and build a courthouse that will help Washington County conduct business efficiently while working with architects to preserve as much of the historical aspects as possible."