Hays County voters approved two bond propositions Nov. 8, and work is underway on designing and planning projects related to Proposition 1.
Of the 63,034 voters who cast ballots for or against Proposition 1, 51.15 percent of voters supported the measure, which will fund two improvements: an expansion at the county jail on Uhland Road in San Marcos, as well as a new law enforcement center and co-located communications center near the Hays County Government Center on Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos.
Commissioner Will Conley, who is part of a public safety facilities committee that also includes Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe and county staff, said the committee will begin looking at details of the projects and working on timelines and construction phasing.
Initial construction plans presented to court this summer call for $106.4 million of construction related to public safety facilities. Construction at the site of the current jail, which will include renovating and expanding the jail as well as building a new vehicle maintenance facility, is expected to cost $62.4 million. Construction at the government center—including the new law-enforcement center and co-located communication center—is expected to cost $44 million.
Conley said the sequence of construction will be especially important because the law enforcement center and county communications center are currently located on the site of the jail. Those facilities will need to be moved before jail expansion can begin.
As of Nov. 21, the county was holding 140 inmates in jails outside of the county. Hays County has contracts with seven counties to hold prisoners, but jails are cutting back the number of inmates received, Conley said.
“That market is starting to shrink and become more competitive as we have anticipated for some time, so we’re also going to be putting together what we do in the interim to make sure we maintain a high level of public safety but in a fiscally responsible way,” Conley said.
On Nov. 22, the Hays County Commissioners Court agreed to seek requests for qualifications from firms to perform environmental and traffic impact analyses related to the public safety projects in Proposition 1.
County Development Services Director Clint Garza said the court could select firms to handle the work by Dec. 20. Then contract negotiations would begin with the selected firms and design of the facilities will be presented to court by February, Garza said.
“I’ve stated it before, and I’m still of the opinion that the most pressing issue we have in this county is our circumstance at the jail and law enforcement center,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant said. “We need to get things moving because it’s costing our taxpayers dollars every day.”
Voters also approved Proposition 2, which will fund transportation projects throughout the county. County Transportation Director Jerry Borcherding said the commissioners court may decide to appoint a subcommittee to manage the transportation bond program and determine the sequencing of projects, or commissioners may handle management themselves. That decision will likely be made by mid-December, he said.
Although the sequence of projects has not been determined, Borcherding said a $20 million project to widen Dacy Lane will likely be one of the highest priority bond projects because of the recent opening of McCormick Middle School on Dacy.
“We’ve been working on that for some time now and we want to go on and finish up Dacy Lane,” Borcherding said.