Hopkins County residents are urged to attend a “Town Hall” meeting at 6:30 p.m. this evening in the Civic Center and hear presentations from County Judge Chris Brown, Sheriff Butch Adams and DRG Architects on plans for the construction of a new county jail.
On Thursday, a special meeting notice for Hopkins County Commissioners court to “consider calling a bond elections for Hopkins County. To be held on November 5.”
Commissioners, earlier this year, agreed to begin an active process to explore the feasibility of building a new jail and engaged the services of DRG Architects to locate a site, draw up plans and establish a time for replacement of the current facility.
Since the architect study began, a number of things have happened to accelerate the plan and County Judge Chris Brown and the commissioners court will host a town hall meeting Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Civic Center to discuss the jail, a potential new jail and a potential $16 million bond issue to pay for a new jail.
“There are a couple of things that have happened, DRG has been working on a site location for us,” Judge Brown said Tuesday morning. “What we have figured out is, that beside the old jail, we can completely build a new jail and sheriff's office.”
The site is adjacent to the current jail and extends north to Houston Street where, Brown says, will be the entrance to the sheriff's office. There would also be a drive along the west side of the proposed new jail to the current jail.
Judge Brown said the process has reached the point where county commissioners need public input on the jail proposal.
“What we are doing, we're hosting a town forum next Monday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Civic Center,” he said. “We are asking the public to come out.”
Initially, commissioners had contemplated calling a bond election for next May but, Brown said May is no longer available for counties. Such elections must be held in conjunction with the November General Elections.
“So, if we are going to call a bond election, it has to be done next week,” the county judge said. “What we want is public input to decide whether we need to call the election or not. If we call it or we don't, there are still a lot of meetings that have to happen and a lot of public input we have to take and there is a lot of information we want to make sure the public has. But, unfortunately, we are up against a time crunch and we have time for one initial meeting before we make the decision to call this bond issue election.”
A $16 million bond issue would mean an increase of between 6.5 and 7.25 percent per $100 property value in ad valorem taxes.
The county's tax rate is .56 per $100 property value currently and the increase would take that rate up to .62 or .63 per $100 in property value.
The town hall meeting will be held this evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Civic Center and all county residents are encouraged to attend.
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