No new Kaufman county courthouse. County commissioners rejected, by a 3-2 vote, negotiating a planning fee with an architectural firm. Needless to say the response from those who work at the courthouse was not enthusiastic.
With a 3-to-2 vote Monday, commissioners opposed a motion authorizing County Judge Wayne Gent to negotiate with the firm of Wiginton Hooker Jeffry Architects to determine a fee for planning of the proposed project. Gent and Commissioner Ray Clark voted in favor of the motion while commissioners Jerry Rowden, J.C. Jackson and Jim Deller opposed it.
“I don’t have any doubt that we need a new courts building. I’m here closer than any of the other commissioners and I see every day and everytime they have jury trials over there. I know how bad it is,” Rowden said. “What bothers me is the timing of it all. Our tax rate is already way high, and I campaigned on a platform of not raising taxes. I’m just not ready to add a nickel to our tax rate especially in light of the current economy.”
There is considerable taxpayer dissent on the issue. Just read the comments on the KH website. I don’t live in Kaufman County. I do pay some business taxes and sales tax. I can understand why voters oppose this issue. They see it as all cost and no benefit. Kaufman is a fiscal/socially conservative county. They hate paying taxes, and they love locking up people for dope. Therein lies the problem.
I’m libertarian and I hate taxes. I would advocate ending the war on drugs to end the necessity of both a new courthouse and Kaufman’s huge jail. It’s the endless supply of drug defendants that fill up the jail, clog the felony dockets, and require mountains of tax dollars to warehouse and prosecute. That may not be possible the short run. However, it’s that choice (Prohibition II) that makes bigger government/more spending a certainty.
Finally, I can’t believe a tax increase is the only way to finance a courthouse. This is a recession, and we are all cutting back and prioritizing spending. Is there money is current budget that could be better spent on a new courthouse? That would create a turf war. But if the voters don’t want a tax increase why not consider it?