[Source: Yvonne Wingett, Arizona Republic] — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sacrificed $86 million in capital-improvement projects Monday, instead unanimously deciding to spend the money on a courtroom complex in downtown Phoenix. The 16-story Criminal Court Tower could cost $340 million and likely will be the county’s most expensive project, filling a block bounded by First and Second avenues and Jackson and Madison streets. Most criminal cases are tried in the downtown Phoenix Superior Court Complex, but with 40,000 felony cases filed yearly and the number projected to grow, the tower is meant to handle ever-increasing caseloads.
In shelving other projects, the board hammered home that it is committed to the tower, despite slumping revenues, a gaping hole in its budget, and bleak briefings from economists who predict the economic situation will get worse. “There will never be a better time to build that building than right now,” said Republican Supervisor Max Wilson. To help cover court-tower costs, the board shelved a $67 million plan to expand a regional court in Mesa, a $13 million project to build a sheriff’s office 911 center and crime lab, and a $6.3 million plan to knock down First Avenue Jail. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]