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Vote set for May 14

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Ellis County commissioners approved May 14 as the date for a special election for a proposed county sales tax in Monday night's regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.

Ellis County voters will consider a 0.5-percent sales tax that, according to the resolution, would be directed toward "financing the costs to acquire, construct, remodel and equip improvements to the county courthouse and Law Enforcement Center and a new EMS/rural fire building."

The collection of the sales tax would start Oct. 1, or soon thereafter, and would expire upon payment of all costs incurred in the financing of the project, according to the resolution.

Commission chairman Dean Haselhorst said he has been asked the same question repeatedly about the proposed sales tax.

"When does the sales tax come off?" he asked, adding voters wanted a specific date.

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund said it is impossible to give a specific date because it is unknown how fast revenue will be brought in. The estimate is four-and-a-half years before the tax would expire.

"It looks like four-and-a-half years, but it's strictly a guess," Sund said.

The authority has been given to issue bonds not to exceed $14.5 million for the projects. Sund has provided an estimate on the two projects. The courthouse, jail and Law Enforcement Center is estimated at $8,512,932, and the new EMS/rural fire building comes in at $3,797,266.

In other business:

* Commissioners approved an additional attorney and legal secretary for the Ellis County Attorney's office. The positions would be filled starting on or after July 1, and be paid for through the county's contingency budget. That amount would be $62,315. The positions then would be in the 2014 budget.

Even with attorneys working unpaid overtime, the office has not been able to keep up with the caseload, said Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees. In the past five years, he said, approximately 10 percent of cases each year have not been resolved.

Drees thanked the commissioners for the funds to add personnel.

"I know it's difficult for you to spend money you don't see coming in," he said. "I think it's necessary."

* Commissioners discussed various issues with Ellis County Public Works Director Mike Graf, among them disposal of a roof at the former county public works shop in Ellis; maintenance of an unpaved road to the former county works shop in Ellis; the parking lot at the Ellis County Fairgrounds; and trash being dumped along county roads.

* Commissioners approved annual reports on outstanding tax exemptions.

*  Commissioners authorized the county administrator to sign license agreements with Computer Information Concepts in Greeley, Colo., for software, date conversion, training, enhancements and support at a total coast $242,460.

* Commissioners approved a Community Improvement District policy. Having a policy doesn't put a CID in place.

* Commissioners received the monthly financial report for February.

* Haselhorst signed a proclamation as part of National Agriculture Week.

* Commissioners went into executive session for nine minutes to discuss union negotiations. No action was taken.