Chris Calulot planned to attend the Scott County Fiscal Court’s Monday town meeting on needed capital projects to push for more soccer fields.
He left with a new perspective.
“I think it is great for the community to get involved and it was good to hear all the needs,” Calulot said. “But it’s kinda hard to push for a new soccer field when I hear we need a new office for the sheriff, a new judicial center, a new jail, a new fire truck and all.”
Calulot was among some 84 people who attended the 90-minute session at Great Crossing High School where the county’s department supervisors laid out the top three needs for their respective departments through a video presentation.
Those attending were then asked to set priorities for the capital needs based upon what they heard. Most of the county’s supervisors were on hand to answer questions.
Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington has appointed a committee to sift through the list of needs to compile its own list of priorities that will be provided to the fiscal court members in March. The committee will use the list of priorities provided by those who attended the meeting to rank them as part of the process. Committee members are: Alonzo Allen, Joe Arnold, Ukari Figgs, Kelli Kearney and magistrates Kelly Corman, Rick Hostetler and Chad Wallace.
Following the video presentation, Covington gave some estimated costs ranging from $15,000 each for two mobile messaging boards to $75,000 for a backhoe to $165,000 for a brush truck to $1.2 million for a ladder fire truck among others.
Several requests for new buildings were made including a request for a new sheriff’s office (estimated $6 million), Emergency Management Station ($2.5-$3 million), a new jail or detention center and a new judicial center.
Circuit Judge Jeremy Mattox stated the need for a new judicial center as Scott County’s existing center has only 2.5 courtrooms and five judges with a six to be added in a few months. The General Assembly would have to approve such a project and the state would pay for it, but it would require the county’s bonding capacity to finance it, Covington said. The project is currently ranked sixth among such projects in the state, and it is likely to be addressed in the upcoming session, Covington said. The estimated cost of such a center would be $37 million.
“When you read in the paper about someone who commits a crime and then the trial isn’t held until years later, it’s because we don’t have enough courtrooms,” Mattox said.
Sheriff Tony Hampton had similar concerns about the sheriff’s office with a lack of space to store evidence, to interrogate suspects and for deputies to dress and complete reports. Jailer Derran Broyles told of a facility made for 76 prisoners that has a daily average of 130.
“This is the first time we have ever done anything like this,” Covington said about the town hall meeting to get the public’s input. The turnout on a night when there were several other government meetings and the winter cold front was moving in was encouraging, Allen said.
“I hope we can do this every year,” he said.
When Covington asked if there were needs the supervisors did not mention, Roy Cornett pointed out the need for a reservoir as a water source for the community. Covington agreed and said plans the county had to build a 300-acre reservoir in the northern part of the county should be revisited.
Following the meeting Cornett praised the effort.
“They’re laying all their cards on the table,” Cornett said of the fiscal court. “I think it just improves transparency.”
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.