Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 22, 2013

Courthouse committee takes no action

The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — No recommendations were made by the Courthouse Renovations Committee on Thursday on how to proceed with several cost estimate proposals for courthouse rehabilitation.

After much discussion on the issue, County Chairman Robert White encouraged the committee to not make a recommendation.

"We'll type up the points made tonight and and use those to come up with ideas before our full board meeting," White said. "At the end of the day, we'll still have issues so I would suggest sitting down and reaching out to M360, perhaps scheduling a workshop to ask them questions on ways to attack this. That way when we do make a decision, it will be based on facts."

Committee members, which include Chairman Randy Edwards, Tommy Hayes and James Malone all agreed this is the best plan moving forward.

"Since 1983, we have been consumed with (two) jails. In the meantime, we've had to address preventative maintenance to keep the courthouse relevant," White continued. "The easy answer is to kick it to the next board. We need a course of action. If the one-quarter cent sales tax for the next 10 years is what we put on the referendum you better be prepared to answer to the voters on why this should be done. If we're going to present something to the voters, it better be good."

"We did what we thought was right and presented it to the public," said Hayes.

"I think we all agree the courthouse needs work," offered Edwards. "People at the town hall meetings were reluctant to put on a real estate tax, and a lot of them recognized the need, but weren't interested in funding (rehabilitations) at all. Nobody wants to pay anymore taxes, but I believe the courthouse courthouse needs to be maintained by law."

Malone thanked those who took the time to attend the town hall meetings — Edwards said attendance was poor — and added that there were no bad ideas presented.

"We've got to make one or two decisions and come to conclusions that are in the best interests of the citizens of Jefferson County," Malone said.

State's Attorney Doug Hoffman clarified for the committee that only one proposition can be included in any referendum that is presented to voters, after someone questioned whether multiple questions could be asked on the ballot.

It was reported the county has until Dec. 30 to adopt a referendum question and until Jan. 9 to file the request with the county clerk. County officials have previously indicated they would like some type of question to be on the March 2014 primary ballot.