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Ennis Daily News

County calls bond election

More than a year of research and discussion regarding Ellis County’s facilities needs came to a close Monday evening when the Commissioners’ Court approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the City of Waxahachie and voted in favor of downtown Waxahachie as the location for a Civil and Criminal Courts and Detention Center.
“I thank the City of Waxahachie for building in some incentives for the location downtown, just like any other entity or business that, through the revitalization efforts, you have offered incentives before – this is viewed as an incentive to keep us downtown,” said County Judge Chad Adams. “Commissioner Brown, it was wise for you to get this pinned down on paper.”
The Memorandum, approved by the City Council earlier in the day, specifies that the City will:
• Contribute up to $400,000 toward purchase of a tract of land in the downtown area to assist with locating a new County Civil and Criminal Courts and Detention Center in downtown;
• Build a parking garage at a cost not to exceed $7,500,000;
• Make reasonable road improvements surrounding the County’s downtown property at a cost not to exceed $250,000;
• Make reasonable and fair considerations for the County with regard to zoning, the historic overlay, and maximum height requirements;
• Help to minimize costs to the County associated with relocation of utilities;
• Reasonably allow closure or rerouting of roads;
• Agree that the fate of the 1929 jail facility will be left up to the County and that it could be incorporated, removed, or demolished to make the best use of the County’s property.
The agreement is contingent upon successful passage of a bond election in the amount of $53,875,000 set for May 12, 2007.
Commissioner Dennis Robinson, pct. 1, cast a dissenting vote with regard to the location.
“I would like the Court to take into consideration construction of administration and justice facilities outside of downtown, and the jail in downtown,” he said. “I think for the future expansion of facilities, something out of the downtown area would be better.”
Jim Sabonis of First Southwest, the County’s financial advisor, told the Court that the County is in a good position for issuance of a bond at this time.
“The County is in a very healthy financial position,” Sabonis said. “It has been very prudently operated by the Commissioners.”
Sabonis noted the County has a very low percentage of outstanding debt compared to assessed taxable value, and that interest rates are close to a 15-year low at this time.
County Auditor Mike Navarro provided Commissioners with a written analysis of 14 different debt structuring scenarios with varying payments and maturity 20, 25, and 30 years out. As an example, a 20-year maturity with level payments would result in approximately a $40.20 per year tax increase on a $100,000 house.
“This is a decision for the voters,” said Adams. “The truth is that we are growing – 22 people a day are moving into this County, and unfortunately not all those people are good. Some will end up in jail.”

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Posted by on Feb 28 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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