Hays County commissioners to consider calling bond election Aug. 18

Hays County commissioners will hold a special-called meeting Monday, Aug. 18, to discuss the possibility of calling a bond election for inclusion on the November ballot.

According to a county news release, the bond, which would total $184.4–$188.5 million, would help address the county's aging infrastructure, including a new jail, co-located law enforcement dispatch facility and a new law enforcement center.

Officials have kept an eye on the weekly population at the jail recently. The county began sending inmates to the Guadalupe County Jail earlier this summer. As of Aug. 12, the county had eight inmates housed in Guadalupe County.

Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler has estimated outsourcing to Guadalupe County costs the county $50 per day per inmate.

"This jail facility is literally costing us dollars every day," Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said. "If you put this jail on the ballot and it fails, I'm making it clear, at least for people from Pct. 3, we are shipping prisoners until the end of time; until people come back and tell us, 'We are tired of wasting money in other counties.'"

County Judge Bert Cobb called the group of potential public safety facilities the "largest project ever built in Hays County."

The county received a presentation from Broaddus & Associates at its Aug. 12 meeting related to potential bond packages. The bond totals ranged from $184.4 million to $188.5 million. The bond could potentially provide funding for new jail facility, law enforcement center, joint training center and vehicle storage facilities as well as demolition of the existing jail.

The new jail, training center and vehicle storage facility would likely be built on the site of the current jail at 1307 Uhland Road, San Marcos. The law enforcement center would be built near the Hays County Government Center at 712 Stagecoach Road, San Marcos.

The county's 25-year-old jail has been the subject of possible renovations dating back to the late 2000s. It failed two inspections by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards in 2009. Sheriff Gary Cutler instituted programs that helped decrease the population at the jail.

In the past year the jail's inmate population has been climbing steadily. Jail officials have said part of the reason for the rising population is because many of the inmates are committing felonies, which require longer jail time to process, as opposed to misdemeanors, which once accounted for a higher percentage of the jail's population.

The city of San Marcos may participate in a joint law enforcement facility with the county, but the city has not yet decided if it would like to move forward with such a project.

If commissioners approve the bond election, Hays County residents will have the opportunity to vote on the issue Nov. 4.