Close Courthouse or Pay More Taxes for Area County

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Barbour County may be one of Alabama’s largest counties land wise, but it's one of the state's smallest counties by population.

That's why some city leaders say there is no need for two courthouses.

The courthouse in Eufaula needs renovating, but some commissioners say the county can't handle that financial burden and they need to just shut it down.

The last renovations to the Barbour County Courthouse in Eufaula came in the early 1980s.

Now, county leaders say more needs to be done, especially to the floors and air conditioning system.

However, that is expected to cost around a half-million dollars.

So, leaders are putting it to the people: raise property taxes by one to three mills to keep the Eufaula Courthouse going, or, close the doors and move everything to the county seat's courthouse in Clayton.

"We don’t really need two courthouses. It’ll save us money for the county," says Barbour County resident Larry Jackson.

“If they are going to spend and enormous about of money renovating it, they don’t need to do it on Eufaula. It would be better and more wisely spent to develop a small annex office perhaps, and leave the courthouse in Clayton,” says Barbour County resident Beth Rose.

“I think we need to have the two courthouses open. I think the people in Eufaula need to be served by someone in Eufaula. They don’t need to have to drive to Clayton to be served,” says Barbour County resident Jenny Ming.

If county leaders decide to close the courthouse, that will mean a 20 to 30 minute trip for anyone who lives in Eufaula.

However, commissioners say that shouldn't be a problem, considering how often people come to the courthouse.

"There are two things that you do in the course of a year. You pay your property taxes and you pay your car tags. You can mail your property taxes in and we’re going to have a way for you to mail in and get your car tags. So, there shouldn’t be that much of an inconvenience for people,” says District 5 Commissioner, Fred Cooper.

If Barbour County voters decide to close down the courthouse in Eufaula, commissioners say no jobs will be lost.

Commissioners are looking to put the choice on the ballots during this special legislative session. If it's decided to close down the Eufaula Courthouse, that will go into effect in 2008 after some current jurisdictions are changed in the state offices.

Leaders say it costs $210,000 dollars a year to keep the courthouse in Eufaula open. That does not include any payroll.

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