- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) - Lee County voters have rejected an $8.5 million bond measure that would have financed the construction of a new courthouse to replace two existing courthouses.

The bond needed 60 percent approval by voters to be implemented, but only received 45 percent in Tuesday’s election, according to The Burlington Hawk Eye (https://bit.ly/2fyISyV ).

If approved, there were tentative plans to build a two-story courthouse in Montrose, midway between Lee County’s largest cities of Fort Madison and Keokuk. The county is unique in Iowa for having two courthouses.

The proposed new courthouse had been the subject of heated debates at community forums, where some questioned the cost and didn’t want their community to lose one of the courthouses, while others said the aging buildings needed extensive restoration work.

Earlier, officials had estimated that bringing the existing courthouses up to code would cost as much as $1 million during the next five years.

“I’m not surprised,” said county Auditor Denise Fraise, who supported the new building. “I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised.”

Jim Decker, of Fort Madison, said he voted against the plan because he didn’t see the need for a new building.

“I’ve been to the old courthouse here,” he said. “It’s a good courthouse. I don’t know that we need another.”

Given the election defeat, county supervisors said they don’t plan to raise the issue again.


Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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