The construction of a new 4th Circuit Court building in Provo may begin soon if the state Executive Appropriations Committee supports a new lease agreement with the city.
Court officials and legislators will ask Gov. Norm Bangerter to put the Provo circuit court issue on the agenda for the special legislative session Wednesday.If that issue is put on call and the Executive Appropriations Committee supports additional funding for the construction of the circuit court facility, Neil Stowe, director of the state Division of Facilities, Construction and Management, said he would have no qualms about signing a lease agreement authorizing construction of the new court building.
"I don't want into a new obligation of increased spending without some legislative authority," he said. Stowe is responsible for signing lease agreements between the state and municipalities for court facilities.
The governor plans to call a special session while legislators are in Salt Lake for their monthly interim committee meetings. The special session would address a Cedar City bonding proposal issue.
Mayor Joe Jenkins said the city needs the 4th Circuit Court to move out of the Provo City Building because the space is needed for city departments.
Three departments presently lease space outside the City Building, and it costs the city "a lot more money to lease outside," Jenkins said.
The Police Department also needs more room so it can keep files that meet federal requirements for record-keeping.
"They (court officials) were put on notice five years ago that the city needed the space," Jenkins said.
If the governor is unable to put the circuit court issue on the special session agenda, Stowe told officials he would feel comfortable signing the lease agreement once the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House agreed to additional appropriations.
Lt. Gov. Val Oveson and a number of state legislators were at the meeting Monday to discuss possible plans for relocating the circuit court.
"Everyone agrees it ought to be done, so let's get on with it," Oveson said.
Utah County Commissioners Malcolm Beck and Brent Morris were also at the meeting to discuss the possibility of the circuit court locating with the 4th District Court in the County Courthouse.
The courthouse is being renovated to house five courts. Four courts and a domestic court are in the county building now, but in tight quarters.
Beck said plans already have been made and studied and there isn't enough space for both the district and circuit courts. "Because we want to preserve the nature of the building, there isn't enough space for another court," he said.
After discussing the options for 4th Circuit Court facilities, state Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Orem, said, "I don't see any option but to build a new circuit court."
McAllister previously felt that a new court building was a waste of tax dollars but changed his mind after hearing the options the city has for court facilities. He is chairman of the General Government Capital Facilities Appropriations Subcommittee.
Jenkins said the city expects construction to take 12 months.
"As long as they (court officials) have a plan to vacate the building, they can stay there."