WFTV tours $45M Lake County courthouse addition



The $45 million addition to Lake County's courthouse is about to open, and critics of its cost and size are once again speaking up.

Channel 9 got a chance to take a look inside the courthouse on West Main Street in Tavares before personnel are moved into the building.

County leaders committed to the construction before the economy tanked and hundreds of county jobs were eliminated.

That's why some Lake County residents never liked the idea of a new courthouse.

The addition to Lake County's judicial center is five floors and 168,000-square-feet, but some critics said the size is a problem.

"That's why people need to decide whether they vote for somebody.  They need to find out what their stance is on spending taxpayer money, like buying fancy new buildings or not," said Vance Jochim of the Lake County Fiscal Rangers.

Jochim said the $45 million price tag featuring annual payments of $5 million puts too much of a strain on the county budget and could lead to more job cuts. 

Officials have already eliminated well over 100 positions the last few years.

And while the chief judge and clerk of courts ordered county staff not to comment during Wednesday's tour of the building, officials have justified the expansion based on decisions made in Tallahassee, according to Channel 9's Berndt Petersen.

The building features a 300-seat jury assembly room, jury lounge, two floors for new offices and a row of windows to pay fines. 

But critics said the current facility was sometimes all but deserted. 

Jochim believes the addition won't be any different.