State lawmakers allocated $17.4 million in funding for the new Multnomah County Central Courthouse project before concluding the legislative session on Monday. The financial commitment in state bonding authority will help pay for the next round of costs for the estimated $250 million project. Governor Brown is expected to sign House Bill 5005, which included the courthouse funding.
“We are thankful that the Oregon Legislature recognizes the urgent need to replace our seismically deficient courthouse,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “We appreciate the strong support from state lawmakers, particularly Senate President Peter Courtney, House Speaker Tina Kotek, Senator Richard Devlin, and Representative Jennifer Williamson. In addition the county’s budget this year includes $28 million for this vital project.”
"I'm very pleased that my colleagues in the Legislature voted to fund this critical project," said Rep. Jennifer Williamson, a chief supporter for the new courthouse. "This shows the state's commitment to be a full partner in the project." The state previously dedicated $15 million to the project in 2013. The new funds reaffirm the state’s 50/50 financial partnership with the county to replace the ailing structure.
Multnomah County Presiding Judge Nan Waller said she is thrilled with the state and county investment. “The safety of this building is something we think about every day,” commenting on working in the century-old structure. “With more than 600,000 people walking through its doors annually, its replacement will help ensure the smooth operation of our judicial system well into the future.”
The decision to replace the current courthouse is four decades in the making and comes with well-documented research showing the structural fragility of the building. In April, after extensive study and public outreach, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the county-owned Hawthorne west bridgehead site for the future central courthouse. Construction is slated to begin in 2017 and a functional courthouse is expected to open by 2020. For project information, visit www.multco.us/central-courthouse.