MT. VERNON — On a 10-2 vote, the Jefferson County Board has approved a voter referendum for the March 2014 to ask the public to fund courthouse renovations.
The wording of the ballot approved by the County Board is as follows: “To pay for public safety purposes, shall Jefferson County be authorized to impose an increase on its local sales taxes by one-quarter of one percent. This would mean that a consumer would pay an additional 25 cents in sales tax for every $100 of tangible personal property bought at retail.” The wording of the referendum is set by state statute, according to State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman.
Board members Jeremy Hall and Joey McDermott voted in opposition. Board member John Keele, who recently had surgery, was absent.
During the public input portion of the meeting, Bob Shaw said he was both disappointed and surprised by the recommendation made by the Courthouse Renovations Committee last week to proceed with a motion to accept the original bid of $7.62 million from M360.
“I’m disappointed because there was no support in the town hall meetings for an all or nothing approach. What there was support for was doing something. The theme of the meetings was let’s do it in a pay as you go way,” Shaw said. “Those affected the most can least afford it. I urge you to find a more responsible way of dealing with this. There are variations of ‘pay as you go’ that could be adopted.”
Public members, as well as board members, seemed confused by the contradiction in the motion made last week and
the end result of Monday’s motion, which doesn’t establish an amount on the project.
Jim Engeman, a representative of M360, told board members though the county is not committed to the $7.62 million, adding, “You can do anything. Right now, our goal is to get firm bidding in place.”