Johnson County Council OK’s $28.4M bond for court services building

A new Johnson County Court Services building is a little closer to reality following a key vote Monday night.

The Johnson County Council voted 6-0, with member John Ditmars abstaining, to approve issuing a local income tax bond Monday for a 73,000-square-foot building that would house much of the court services department, including adult community corrections and probation. The new building will be built behind the current community corrections building at 1071 Hospital Road on land that is already county-owned.

The project is expected to cost approximately $38.4 million, though the bond amount being financed is $10 million lower, $28.4 million. This was because, after discussions between officials, the county council agreed to use cash on hand they had from the correctional facility local income tax fund to pay down costs.

That tax, often referred to as the jail LIT, was passed for the Johnson County jail expansion in 2019. Revenue from the tax is allowed to be used for the construction, installation, rehabilitation and equipment of certain correctional facilities and rehabilitation facilities, along with other related expenses.

The Johnson County Council previously authorized using $1.9 million of cash on hand for engineering costs for the court services building. On Monday, they authorized using another $8.7 million of cash on hand for the project, ultimately lowering the total amount financed to $28.4 million, said Jeff Peters, a financial consultant with Peters & Franklin.

Council president Pam Burton said she believes Peters and everyone else involved had “extensively explained the situation.” She is completely on board, she said.

The new court services building will set the department ahead for the future, officials told the Daily Journal earlier this month. It also would provide community corrections with credit for the “critical role” it plays in the criminal justice system, said Tony Povinelli, community corrections director.

“I think that as far as efficiency within the courts, having us in the same building as probation makes a lot of sense. We’re just going to be able to work that much more effectively,” Povinelli said.

Right now, court services is housed in two buildings: adult probation at an old bank converted to the East Government Annex on Jefferson Street in Franklin and the community corrections building, which was built as a “temporary” building in 1997.

Space is tight in the current buildings. At the east annex, there are offices and a conference room in the old bank vault and two people work in a hallway that was converted into an office at probation. At community corrections, there are four directors in one office. Court Services Director and Chief Probation Officer Angela Morris has to travel between the two buildings multiple times a week, she said.

The new building would solve the space problems and consolidate offices, leading to more efficiency, officials said.

It features dozens of offices, bunks, classrooms and more. Offices would be for community corrections, adult probation and court services staff, along with offices for program therapists, pre-trial services and problem-solving court staff.

The new building would feature 12 gender-divided dormitories, four female and eight male for a total of 262 beds. Currently, community corrections has 100 beds.

The divided dorms can also provide community corrections the ability to separate offenders housed there by whether they have day or night shift jobs, or based on their risk to re-offend, Povinelli said. At the current facility, they’re also running out of female beds, he said.

Other parts of the facility include day rooms, outdoor recreation spaces, classrooms, program spaces and a room for outside agencies to meet with offenders, plans show. The classrooms would also have a second entrance for other parts of the county government to use the space after hours. There would be security checkpoints for offenders throughout the facility so they can’t enter certain parts, such as the classrooms, without clearance, said Kevin Walls, county commissioner.

Once the new building is built and community corrections, probation and court services move in, the old building will be demolished and the parking lot for the new building will be built in its place, Walls said. The hope is to start construction in the third or fourth quarter of this year, pending the completion of paperwork and the weather, he said.


To learn more about the Johnson County Court Services building project, check out the Daily Journal’s past coverage at