BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Local leaders are feeling better about their chances of keeping a Federal Courthouse facility in Bay County. The lease on the current courthouse is up at the end of 2018. Several new developments point to the Federal Government keeping a local presence.
Bay County leaders have been racing the clock for months now, to save the Federal Courthouse. Initially, the government was leaning towards closing the facility when the lease expires on the current site in December 2018, but some recent developments may tip the scale of justice back in Bay County's favor.
"There is a federal magistrate in Gainesville retiring. So the chief judge in Pensacola has asked that the new position be assigned to Panama City which is also a good thing for us right now," said Bay County Commissioner, Tommy Hamm.
That magistrate would presumably need a courthouse, Bay County officials have already offered to lease the current Juvenile court facility on East 11th street to the feds for that purpose, then build a new one in this area near the current courthouse campus. Most agree losing the federal courthouse would be devastating.
"The expense that would be involved in court proceedings coming out of our area, either having to be located to either Tallahassee or Pensacola, would just be ridiculous," said President Bay Co. Chamber of Commerce, Carol Roberts.
The county would also stand to lose several hundred thousand dollars a year for housing Federal inmates. "The inmates would have to be transferred to another facility some place else and you know, that's another big driver too. Our jail is basically getting this additional revenue without having to incur any additional expense to do so," said Hamm.
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