Supervisors still discussing, plan to move forward building communications center without bond vote

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. gave the Washington County Board of Supervisors an update Tuesday, Sept. 11, of the current plan to declare the area where the proposed communications center will be built a rural urban renewal area, which won?t require a vote.

Seward explained this would remove the requirement for an election to approve the bonding for $4 million to construct the building. He said the public could call for an election by filing a petition that included signatures equal to 10 percent of the turnout in the last gubernatorial election, or 1,109 signatures. Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer said the supervisors will have to pass a resolution setting a public hearing on the application for the area to become a rural urban renewal area. After this, the supervisors also have to adopt a resolution to set a hearing to issue the bonds. The county is required to give at least 10 days notice of the hearing. Petitions will be due the day of the hearing.

?It looks like if the timeline is met and if there are no hitches or roadblocks, we should be elligible to receive some funds in late October or early November,? Seward said.

The Supervisors had not approved a plan to move ahead with the plan to construct the building in time to get a bond referendum for the funding on the November ballot. Seward had recommended the plan, which he had received from bond attorney Bob Jostin, as a way of allowing the plan to move ahead. Supervisor Abe Miller has voiced opposition to the plan several times, saying because taxpayer money is being used for the project, the taxpayers should have the right to vote on the project. At this point the bonding would be for $4 million, but because there are not a set of blueprints for the project yet, the exact cost of the building is unknown. No architect has been hired to draw the blueprints yet.

If the bond referendum failed, the supervisors would have to wait another six months before taking the issue to the public again. Currently the earliest the supervisors can put the issue on the ballot is during the May 2019 election. Construction would begin between six and eight months after a successful bond vote. Because the supervisors have already ordered the communications equipment with a December 2019 date for it to be installed, the construction of the building has to begin early in 2019. The $6 million in equipment and maintenance was ordered before the building blueprints were started so the county could get a 10 percent discount ($500,000) from rebates based on delivery dates, which the county would not receive if the equipment is unable to be installed.