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Sales tax vote includes courthouse expansion

LAWRENCEVILLE - After years of holding court in a former furniture store or a movie theater, when Judge Dawson Jackson first took the bench in the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center for the first time 20 years ago, he thought the county's space issues were solved.

But Tuesday, the chief Superior Court judge thanked commissioners for including a $95 million courthouse expansion in a proposed extension of the county's special purpose local option sales tax.

"We never thought we would run out of court space, but we have," Jackson said after commissioners called for a November referendum for a five-year $850 million SPLOST program. "We are all keenly aware of the need presently to expand our courthouse. ... The citizens of our county deserve it."

In addition to the courthouse, the revenues would be split for the construction of parks, libraries and public safety facilities and equipment, with about half of the money going toward city and county transportation projects.

The county's 15 cities would share about $132 million for projects ranging from city halls to sidewalks.

"It is amazing to us, four years later, how much this little penny does," said Paula Hastings, a Lawrenceville woman who serves on a citizen review panel for the current sales tax program.