State To Help Pay For Watertown's Second Courtroom

State To Help Pay For Watertown's Second Courtroom

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The city of Watertown has been saddled with putting in a second courtroom for its second full-time judge. That project is expected to cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

So, earlier this month, state Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, who represents Watertown, penned a letter to the state's chief administrative judge.

Walczyk proposed a few ideas to help the city out. Reimbursing the city for interest payments on a bond for the project was one of his proposals.

He got a letter back, which says the Office of Court Administration is willing to work with the city to address the possibility of doing just that.

"I'm excited to see the conversation moving forward. The Office of Court Administration is clearly wanting to work with the city on the financing here," said Walczyk (R - 116th Assembly District).

Architects are working on plans to build the second courtroom on the first floor at city hall and move some offices upstairs. The project was expected to cost $4.5 million, but the size of the new courtroom was recently cut in half, which should cut down the cost.

And while it appears the Office of Court Administration is willing to help the city with the cost, how much will that be and will it make a big difference?

"You know, the proof will be in the pudding, it'll depend on how much of the bond they actually are paying each year when it comes down to it but this is definitely a step in the right direction," said Walczyk.

City Council Member Lisa Ruggiero says the assistance will probably be just a drop in the bucket, but she says she wasn't expecting any help at all. 

"it's better than nothing and if they're willing to help the city in some way, it may be the number is not that much, but still we'll take whatever assistance they can give us," she said.

This comes as no surprise to City Manager Rick Finn, who says the state paying for the interest is a given. He says that's the way it works.

But Finn says since the state is mandating the project, he would love to see it help more with the cost. He says that's really the only fair way to do it.

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