Supervisor’s Office

Courts Master Plan

Per the State Code of Iowa, counties are responsible for providing space for the operation of the state run courts system.

The Polk County Courthouse was built in 1906 with four courtrooms.  Currently, Courthouse is very overcrowded with 28 courtrooms squeezed into the building with Polk County providing an additional 9,000 square feet in leased space at Riverpoint West as well as 14,705 square feet of leased storage space for the Clerk of Court.    Because of the age of the facility and the retrofitting of space not originally designed or intended for court use, the current facility has inadequate provisions for security and life-safety needs.

On April 29, 2008, a referendum to construct additional court space failed.  The referendum considered a courthouse plan to address the current and future space needs of the courts.  The plan included the full use and renovation of the historic courthouse and construction of a new court facility on County owned land immediately south of the present courthouse site at a 2009 construction cost not to exceed $127 million dollars.  By state law, Polk County is responsible to provide space for its state courts.  Polk County’s Courthouse was originally built in 1906 with four courtrooms.  

Following the defeated referendum, the Board of Supervisors directed the County Administrator to develop a phased approach plan and financial scenario to alleviate the courts space issue based upon the recommendations of the National Center for State Courts. A Phase I Study was completed in August of 2010 and included the establishment of a criminal courts annex within the old main jail.

On May 20, 2013, the Polk County Board of Supervisors received the Fifth Judicial District Master Plan from the National Center for State Courts and OPN Architects, Inc. Receipt of the master plan will provide the Board of Supervisors with the information they need to move forward with a referendum on the courts space issue as early as November, 2013.

Property Tax Impact

Courts Space Issue Details


Issue Papers

Court Security

Courtroom Tech

Jury Management


Night Court


Other Useful Links

General Information

Juvenile Court Relocation

Court Calendaring

Collegial Chambers & Shared Courtrooms

Court Decentralization

State Technology Initiatives

Courthouse Referendum

Courthouse Referendum (Resolution)

Referendum Comparison

Courts Referendum Construction Schedule

Speakers Bureau

If you would like someone from Polk County to speak to your organization and share information regarding the courts space issue, please contact Sarah Boese at 515-286-3895 or via email at

Contact Us

Polk County Administration Building
111 Court Avenue, Room 300
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: (515) 286-3120
FAX: (515) 323-5225