Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If you build it they will come

Build it because they will surely come.

Its too bad the County Judge and Commissioners are taking some "smack" from someone running to be County Judge who is trying to politicize this issue and milk it.

Responsible governing recognizes the need, not only in the present, but in the future as well for the community. Costs can be contained now, competition assures that, and inflation only makes the cost go higher the longer the project is delayed.

Commissioners could move on justice center


Comal County Commissioners could take their first step Thursday toward foregoing a bond election and issuing debt to pay for a proposed $32 million downtown justice center.

The county’s legislative body will consider publishing a notice of intent to issue certificates of obligation during Thursday’s Commissioners Court meeting to fund the construction of the four-story, 127,000 square-foot facility.

“It’s a huge decision,” said Pct. 4 Commissioner Jan Kennady about a vote that would indicate commissioners’ desire to pay for the justice center without going to voters for approval. “I’ve agonized over it, and I just feel it’s the right thing to do.”

The potential expenditure would pay for what likely would be the most expensive county-funded construction project in the county’s history.

The justice center would be built on land the county purchased in April 2008 along Seguin Avenue, between Zink and Bridge streets, across from the Tax-Assessor Collector’s office.

County Judge Danny Scheel, commissioners and local judges have lobbied for months for its construction, citing a need for better security in county courtrooms and more space to accommodate a growing population.

“We’re the fifth-fastest growing county in Texas,” Scheel said Tuesday. “We’ll need a new justice center sooner or later, and we can’t wait for our population to skyrocket and try to catch up.”

He also cited potential savings, as the county could shave a significant amount off the estimated $32 million price tag by taking advantage of a hungry construction market. The county recently saved almost $7 million on the initial estimated cost of a flood-control dam currently under construction.

“There are significant savings out there, and we need to move forward on this now,” Scheel said.

Even if commissioners choose to begin the process of issuing debt to pay for the justice center, Kennady said it still would not stop citizens from petitioning for a bond election.

“This would not prevent any action by anyone who would like to call for a vote,” she said.

Opponents of the justice center said earlier this month that they had already begun a petition to force a bond election.

By publishing a notice of intent in the Herald-Zeitung, commissioners would begin a 30-day process to issue certificates of obligation. Scheel estimated that commissioners likely would officially issue the debt in January, barring a bond election.

“I’m convinced now is the right time to do this,” Kennady said.