County commission to make decision on judicial complex

Sharna Johnson

County commissioners are expected to decide today if a proposed judicial complex that includes a new jail will be put before voters in the November General Election.

The project is expected to cost $33 million split between a .25 percent gross receipts tax increase and a general obligation bond raising property taxes.

The vote will take place following a public hearing on the issue during the commission’s regular meeting at 9 a.m. in the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

County bond counsel Chris Muirhead said commissioners will decide two issues:

• If they will adopt an ordinance indicating their interest to pose the question of a GRT increase to voters during the general election.

• If they will place two bond questions on the ballot for voters, which would result in an increase in property taxes.

A decision to put the issues on the election ballot essentially means the commission is saying, “We think this is a good idea but it’s subject to approval (by voters),” Muirhead said.

According to the proposed ordinance dealing with the GRT increase, the county could use the $16.5 million generated for seven different purposes under state statute.

The uses allowed include: Design, construction, improvement or acquisition of public property, wastewater facilities, a county jail or juvenile detention center, roads, airport facilities or to pay GRT revenue bonds.

Muirhead said by including the full statute, it gives the county the maximum flexibility given by law to use the money, although the county’s plan is to use the money for the judicial complex.

The question of general obligation bonds will center around the purchase of land, design and construction of a new courthouse, according to a resolution included in commissioners meeting packets.

The completed cost of the first phase of the project — which would pay for a new, four-story jail and courthouse — is $33 million, officials have said.

Additional phases, which would involve renovation and construction of more than a dozen buildings, could run the costs to $90 million, architects have said.

In other business, commissioners are expected to:

• Hear a quarterly report of the county’s investments from financial manager Rob Burpo.

• Hear an update on the Joint Land Use Study, a study of Cannon Air Force Base, its needs and the role of neighboring communities as the base expands.

• Take a tour of the jail and juvenile detention center.