A most interesting all day meeting with the Justice Center architect and office holders today, going over the "new" revised plan to stay within the approved budget. I am supremely disappointed that Tony Barrett and I were the only 2 commissioners out of 18 to show up and he, as the deputy in charge of courthouse security, is a stakeholder and would have been there anyway. I know several commissioners who would have been there if they didnt have to work, but there are quite a few more who could have been there but, for whatever reason, chose not to show. There was no representative from the Mayor's office or the Finance department in attendance. (NO I am NOT making any type of negative comment about Mayor Ray being ill and unable to attend) The newspaper wasn't even there. This is the most expensive, time sensitive, project our County is, or will be, involved in for many years. where was everyone? Thanks to Keith, I was able to take time away from work and attend because I know this is so important. It was time well spent. I was outnumbered, umpteen to 1, and kinda got attacked for defending the fact that the Commission passed a budget based on the architects original meetings with everyone and that we needed to stay within that budget. I will say Judges Rich and Durard made very convincing arguments for a 4th courtroom and the need for a DA's office. (the DA may pay around $25k / year rent for their office) The jail really needs a separate entry for the workhouse to prevent contraband from entering the building, and by enclosing the last section of the 2nd jail pod we would gain an additional 36 beds... which could generate almost $500,000 per year per diem from the state just for those beds. The Sheriff's office, Clerk and Master, and Circuit Court Clerk all understood why they weren't getting the extra square footage they had requested and were generally agreeable to the new plan. Because of the insistence of the Judges that a 4th courtroom and DA office was not just a want but a very real need, and that those additions will cost 3.5 - 4 million more dollars, the architect decided that we needed to hold off proceeding forward until these additions and the associated costs can be revisited in the next round of Commsiion meetings and make the decision to either add the space or leave it out. IF, and I mean IF, we can find a way to finance those additions WITHOUT raising taxes I would not object to the increase in budget, but I WILL NOT vote for a tax increase!
I really want to hear from you guys.. and please call your other Commissioners too.