LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish Council agreed Thursday night to sell almost $17.9 million in bonds to build a new courthouse.
“It’s long overdue,” said Councilman Marshall Harris, who made the motion.
The 91,000-square-foot courthouse would be located on La. 63 near the Livingston exit of Interstate 12.
The site is on the same parcel of ground as the Livingston Parish Governmental Building where the nine-member council voted unanimously Thursday night to authorize the bond sale.
Ten years ago, six agencies that had offices in the courthouse put up $900,000 to purchase land for a new courthouse complex.
That decision came after repeated complaints about the conditions and lack of space in the current courthouse, which was built in 1941 and gained numerous additions since then.
Two governmental buildings have been constructed on that land, while officials tried to find money to fund courthouse construction.
Funding was secured after Clerk of Court Tom Sullivan proposed increasing fees in his office by $100 apiece for filing civil suits and by $20 each for filing deeds and mortgages.
The state Legislature subsequently approved the increase in the legal filing fees within Livingston Parish.
Sullivan said he hopes to see courthouse construction begin next year.
Those buildings house the health department, the council chambers, offices of the council and its staff, the Parish President’s Office, Coroner’s Office, Office of Emergency Preparedness, permit offices and other operations.
The district attorney, assessor and registrar of voters have moved to buildings outside of the courthouse.
Judges, court employees and the Sheriff’s Office continue to operate in the courthouse, which includes four courtrooms.
Robert Morrison, chief judge of the 21st Judicial District, has pushed for a courthouse for years, citing problems with security, poor accommodations for jurors and the lack of space for witnesses and families at trials.
The council’s action authorizes sale of 30-year bonds that don’t exceed 6 percent interest per year through the Louisiana Local Government Environmental Facilities and Community Development Authority.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Council Chairman Randy Rushing said Thursday night.