City Approves $300,000 For Courthouse Expansion

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The Eau Claire City Council unanimously approved spending $300,000 on the county's courthouse expansion project.

City Council members say the money will go toward architectural fees and plan designs for the proposed expansion for the city police and county sheriff departments.

The Eau Claire County Board is working on several different proposals for the courthouse expansion. Board members have to decide if they want to add more space for the jail and court system as well as the law enforcement center. Right now, the City of Eau Claire leases courthouse space for the police department. City leaders have said they would like to keep working with the county in the new building, so the police and sheriff departments can stay close to each other. City leaders say the police department is running out of room and the city is running out of time to find a solution.

“If we had held this up and said, 'Well, we have to wait until the county decides on its total package,' I think it would have not been in the public's interest. We need to move ahead on our needs right now with the county and I think this will be a good cooperative venture,” says City Council Member Dave Duax.

Eau Claire County Board Chairman Bruce Willett says the city and county have been working together throughout the whole process and this big financial commitment is another good example of their cooperation.

County board members say the project costs could top $100 million. The city would be responsible for about $5 million of that total bill. The county board still has to decide how much they'll include in their final plan. That decision could come early this summer.

The Police Department's parking lot will get pumped up a bit with seven new vehicles. The council said the Police Department can have a Chevy Tahoe in addition to 6 new squad cars previously approved.

Police Chief Jerry Matysik says the department needs the Tahoe to help train new officers and when it snows, it's good for the department to have four-wheel drive.

The total cost is just under $180,000. Council members agreed to set aside $2.2 million to replace four old Eau Claire fire trucks.

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