The Nolan County Commissioners approved the calling for a bond election in the county during their regular meeting on Monday morning, August 13, 2012 at the Nolan County Courthouse. The bond election was called for in three propositions.
One proposition was to authorize issuing general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $4,020,000 for the renovating and remediating of the courthouse facade.
The second proposition was to authorize issuing general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $10,245,000 to pay for the construction and equipping of a new County Jail Facility.
The final proposition was to authorize using general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $1,425,000 to pay for the construction and equipping of new Sheriff's Offices, with the understanding that, should the third proposition pass but the second proposition fail, the County is not obligated to construct the offices.
The split was made, Precinct 3 Commissioner Tommy White stated, due in part to the petition. But, it was also noted that Vince Viaille, the financial adviser selected by the county for the process, also suggested the split for the propositions.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Willman added that the split would allow for the voters to decide what they wanted. Tony Lara, Precinct 4 Commissioner, went on to say that the split will offer voters complete information in order to avoid public suspicion--something had been speculated leading up to the petition for the bond election.
Following the approval of the bond election, the commissioners also had to approve the distribution of an employee information sheet to all county employees regarding the bond election.
After a variety of other action items were presented--during the public input portion of the meeting, Dr. Loren Bryant spoke to the commissioners about the problems people had with the county projects, such as the county jail location, size, costs and if the law enforcement center would be a joint establishment for both the city and county.
He also noted that people he had been in contact with were under the assumption that the county was still open to the consideration of different locations for the county jail.
County Attorney Lisa Peterson stated that if that was the case, they would have to go back to the architects to redraw plans. The commissioners collectively noted that a different location was never part of the plan.
Dr. Bryant then added that people would be willing to pay more for a facility that was located in town and that at the present time, some people were looking at different properties to house the new county jail.
Peterson, however, stated that the money amounts in the propositions were set--any changes that would be made would have to be within the money amounts presented.
Lara also noted that they were never asked about the possibility of a new location, and Terry Willman--Precinct 1 Commissioner, said that the petition was honored in order to decide the amount of money for the projects. Precinct 3 Commissioner Tommy White also stated that the city was the one who pulled out of the idea of a joint law enforcement center.
Dr. Bryant continued and stated that he met with county personnel to discuss the needs versus the wants for the sheriff's offices. In addition, County Judge Tim Fambrough said that he was aware of one piece of property located near 4th Street, but was not sure if the two-and-a-half block area would be a good size for the facility.
Lara reiterated that even after all of the research, work and the public meetings held, the commissioners never heard any kind of feedback; the petition ended up raising the price of the project from $14.3 million to $15.9 million. Dr. Bryant said that he assumed that anything said to one commissioner would spread around to the other elected officials.
He also admitted that his involvement in the issue came at a later date, sometime in March. He said that he was unavailable to attend the public meetings held in the latter part of 2011.
Following Dr. Bryant's address to the commissioners, a citizen in attendance spoke on the matter, stating that nothing of this magnitude has been presented in the county. Regardless of whatever decision the commissioners made, people would either be glad or sad.
He said that he appreciated that work done by the commissioners in looking at the situation from various angles and that if this is what the commissioners think is in the best interest of the county, then he would stand by them.