OLIVET, S.D. — County commissioners in southeast South Dakota may face a lawsuit over a proposed courthouse.

Hutchinson County commissioners passed a construction resolution Tuesday for a $4.5 million courthouse in Olivet, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported . The current courthouse was built in 1881, making it the oldest still in use in South Dakota.

Under the resolution, the commission has authority to acquire ground for site.

But Menno attorney Tom Hertz told the commissioners before their vote that they’d likely be sued over the courthouse approval. Hertz didn’t say whether the lawsuit would come from him, but that he expects someone would step forward.

“It looks like a rush attempt to push this through before anyone can stop it,” said Hertz.

He said the county should either remodel the current building or scale down the cost of the new courthouse. Hertz suggested that commissioners hold a public hearing.

Commissioners said the current building has structural and environmental issues, including black mold, a cracked wall and leaks.

Puetz Construction of Mitchell found that remodeling the current courthouse would cost an estimated $3.5 million.

“Do you want to spend 75 percent of new for remodeling?” said Commissioner Steve Friesen. “It’s hard working with a 150-year-old building.”

The commissioners authorized a resolution in 2013 to accumulate funds for either a courthouse renovation or construction.

Hutchinson County State’s Attorney Glenn Roth said the commissioners have a short window to use its courthouse accumulation fund and need to take action this year.

No formal decisions have been made for proceeding with the project. If the new courthouse is approved, county officials hope to start construction in the spring.


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/