The county planned to install the equipment in Courtroom 3 this year, but Calvanelli said during the county commissioners workshop meeting Thursday morning that the county may want to consider installing it in neighboring Courtroom 2, as well, because it may receive a discount for doing both at the same time.
The project is estimated to cost
"There had never (previously) been a real acoustical analysis of the courthouse to make sure everybody hears what's going on," she said.
The video portion would provide modern equipment like DVD players -- court staff currently has to take mobile equipment from courtroom to courtroom as needed -- and would enable video conference capabilities, she said.
The county previously installed audio equipment in Courtroom 4 in 2010 and audio and video equipment in Courtroom 6 in 2011 and Courtroom 1 in 2013, she said.
From 2011 to 2013, the county is "conservatively" estimated to have saved
"It's really become much more cost-effective and time-effective to be able to do it this way," she said.
The Courtroom 3 improvement was not a general fund budget line item, but was anticipated in the budget to be a capital project occurring this year, she said. She asked the commissioners to authorize a request for proposals for Courtroom 3, and give contractors the option to name the cost savings they could achieve if they completed Courtroom 2 at the same time, she said.
"You've heard the saying, 'I don't know if I can afford to have you save me anymore money,'" Hertzler said.
The county has been unable to find ways to reduce the general fund effect of the project, according to Calvanelli. Grants are not available for this equipment, and other means of improving sound quality in the courtrooms -- like adding sound-deadening panels or purchasing special ceiling sprays to reduce the echo -- would likely be even more expensive, she said.
The commissioners are expected to vote on authorizing the request for proposals for the project on Monday.
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