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Sales tax vote might not include Main projects

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

After additional consideration, Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund now is unsure whether to put renovations to buildings at 601 Main and 718 Main under the umbrella of a county sales tax.

After the Feb. 4 meeting of the Ellis County Commission, Sund said those two projects "probably" would be included so voters could give them their consideration.

On Tuesday, Sund said the county might go back to paying for renovations at 601 Main and 718 Main through the county's budget. The estimate for those two projects is between $800,000 and $1 million, Sund said.

The county was authorized in its Jan. 21 meeting to issue general obligation bonds to finance renovation and expansion of the county jail and courthouse, and a new building for EMS/rural fire. Also included are the projects at 601 Main and 718 Main. The total estimated cost is $14.5 million.

The county would use a 0.5-percent sales tax to pay for the projects, if voters give their approval in an election either this spring or summer. The city's 0.5-percent sales tax for Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex expires March 31.

"I'm concerned that the smaller projects will confuse the overall effort," Sund said of the reasoning for possibly taking 601 Main and 718 Main off the ballot. "I still don't know if we should move forward with that out of sales tax or out of budgeted money."

If 601 Main and 718 Main are not paid through the sales tax, Sund said the renovations to the health department building and the new offices at the Commerce Bank building either would be budgeted through the county's capital reserve or perhaps through one of the departments in the general fund.

"It wouldn't be a one-way or $800,000 type of payment," Sund said. "We would put that under the bond issue we're talking about.

"Any time you're doing capital construction and renovation, the benefits last longer than the year, so the payment schedule should last longer than the year."

Commissioners will have a planning meeting Monday to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2014. Sund said projects likely will be discussed.

"When you get a chance to get the commission together in a planning-type meeting, I think we have an obligation to talk about current major projects that are on the table," Sund said.