The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, November 10, 1999
Build $60M jail without a vote?

County eyes sidestepping referendum with revenue bonds

Staff Writer

How to come up with $60 million for a new county jail and courthouse will be a hot topic again at the Fayette County Commission's next meeting.

An authority charged with raising funds for public buildings in the county should be created, just in case the commission wants to use special revenue bonds, Commissioner Greg Dunn said during discussions last week.

The commission won't meet again until Wednesday, Dec. 1. Its Nov. 11 meeting has been cancelled because it conflicts with Veterans Day, and its Nov. 23 meeting conflicts with Thanksgiving.

On the Dec. 1 agenda will a discussion of whether to create a special authority, which would have the power to issue revenue bonds without putting the matter to a vote of the general public.

“There are pros and cons to every way we could finance this major project,” said Dunn last week, “and we as a board have got to explore all of them.” Creation of an authority wouldn't mean that the county will necessarily use that avenue to fund the jail, Dunn said, but it would provide more options.

“This could give us one more arrow in our quiver,” he said.

Dunn made a motion to create the authority last week, but Commissioner Linda Wells said she wants more details. “Authorities are entities that answer to no one,” she said. “I would like their responsibilities and obligations more clearly delineated before I would vote to create one,” she added.

The authority's only responsibility would be to finance pubic buildings, Dunn said. “The board would have very limited responsibilities,” he said, but then withdrew his motion, saying he was in sympathy with Wells' request for more time to consider the proposal.

Meanwhile, commissioners asked finance director Emory McHugh to provide updated information on the relative long-term and short-term costs of issuing bonds versus levying a special purpose local option sales tax to pay for the jail and courthouse.

McHugh provided a comparison earlier, but commissioners pointed out that in recent weeks bond prices have soared.

Commissioners recently have purchased land next to the current site of the Fayette County Jail and County Courthouse and have been working with consulting firm Mallett and Associates to plan an addition to the jail and a completely new three-story courthouse facility, plus renovation of the old jail and old courthouse to create a completely new complex.

The complex is expected to face Jimmie Mayfield Boulevard, on 65 acres bordered on east and west by Mayfield and Lee Street.


What do you think of this story?
Click here to send a message to the editor. Click here to post an opinion on our Message Board, "The Citizen Forum"

Back to News Home Page | Back to the top of the page