Costly choices

Published 9:13 am Thursday, March 18, 2010

$11.37 million for a new Northampton County Courthouse that could later expand into a Law Enforcement Center.

$7.9 million for a brand spanking new Hertford County Courthouse.

$24 million to build a consolidated public high school to serve all of Northampton High School.

$21.3 million to replace an aging Bertie High School.

The need for a new Department of Social Services building in Northampton County, one with a price tag of $7.44 million.

It’s extremely apparent that our local leaders in the Roanoke-Chowan area are coming face-to-face with costly capital improvement projects. How to pay for these proposals in a tight budget year and not raise property taxes will be a fine line to walk for our local boards of county commissioners.

Each of the aforementioned projects can easily be put on hold in an effort to wait for a sluggish national economy to rebound, but that only delays the inevitable and possibly drives up the price tag.

Those aging structures have well-served the cliental that have walked through their doors over the years.

The Northampton Courthouse has been around since 1858. It’s a historical gem, but by today’s standards, it’s practicality is long gone.

While the Hertford County Courthouse is about 100 years younger than its counterpart in Jackson, its lay-out and design does not serve it very well today.

Bertie High School and Northampton County High School-East were both constructed in the early 1960’s. Those halls of education have been walked by tens of thousands of students for nearly 50 years. It’s amazing both buildings have held up this long with that type of annual wear and tear.

We do not envy the chore facing our local officials who must find a way to offer modern facilities to serve the public without breaking the bank.

We do encourage them to carefully study each step in this process and make the right choices that will meet today’s demands as well as those of future generations.