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Board approves justice complex, sends to council for vote

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The proposed multi-million dollar Marion County Justice Complex is one step closer to being built.

Wednesday night, the board of appointees gave its approval, sending the project to city-county council. Board members were tasked with whether or not to approve a public-private partnership to build and operate the complex.

The board voted 4-1 approving the partnership and the bid by WMB to build the complex, which will be located at what used to be the General Motors Stamping Plant west of downtown.

Hours of meetings and review by the Marion County Justice Complex Board resulted in four “yes” votes” and one “no” vote Wednesday night.

That approval sends a bid for a new multi-million dollar justice complex to city-county council for the final vote.

“They did their job, they evaluated the bid, they looked at other circumstances,” council CFO Bart Brown said.

Brown explains that the board solely approved the public-private partnership.

“In the end, they voted on the bid itself and it was the best bid presented to the city,” he said.

And while much of the deliberation in the meeting centered around the project’s cost, that is up to the council to deliberate.

“The council will decide whether we can truly afford this or if we want to take the opportunity to do this, but know we’ll either have to raise revenue or cut expenses to do it,” Brown said.

Kathy Davis is the one board member who voted “no” at the meeting.

“I hope that it helps the council in their deliberations that this comes to them as a 4-1 vote rather than a 5-0,” she said.

She believes that the project could go over budget and could cost taxpayers more in the long run than anticipated.

She wanted to make sure the council took note of her concerns, such as whether projected operating costs will turn out to be accurate.

“I want the project obviously to go and be reviewed by the council, that’s where the review belongs, but I think just to say that this is costly,” she said.

Mayor Greg Ballard, a proponent of this public-private partnership, issued a statement Wednesday emphasizing the benefits and his hope that the board would give the approval.

The next step for the project is a vote at the city-county council meeting scheduled right now for April 20.