Changes are on the horizon at the Dickinson County Courthouse after voters on Tuesday approved a $13.5 million bond issue for improvements.

The vote in favor of issuance of bonds was 1,851 to 1,800.

County Administrator Brad Homman said about 73 provisional ballots remain to be counted when Dickinson County commissioners canvass the election at 9 a.m. Monday at the courthouse.

Just a year ago, voters rejected a proposal to issue $15.9 million in bonds for courthouse improvements, to be paid off over 34 years. The money would have been used to fix plumbing problems that caused a sewage odor, to expand the overcrowded jail and to deal with other issues.

Homman said earlier that the biggest issue with the previous vote was the amount of time it would have taken to pay off bonds.

This time, county voters reacted favorably. The county will lease the facility from the Dickinson County Building Commission for 25 years, with the building commission using the lease payments to pay off the bonds.

“Everyone that’s involved with this project on a daily basis sees it as a critical step forward,” Homman said. “It’s important to have a viable jail that will support the county for several decades to come.”

The project still includes new plumbing, renovation of county offices and a new jail and sheriff’s offices. Changes include renovating the existing courtroom rather than building a new one and not creating space in the building for the Abilene Police Department.

One of the main issues, Homman said, is overcrowding of the 38-bed jail.

 

Two phases

The new jail, to be located on the east side of the courthouse along with the sheriff’s office, would be a 65-bed facility.

The renovations and additions would take 24 to 30 months to complete and be implemented in two phases.

Phase I would be construction of the jail and sheriff’s office. The existing jail and sheriff’s office would function as normal during this phase.

Phase II would include renovating the existing courthouse, beginning with removing the old jail from the second floor and constructing the new courtroom and court offices in that area.

Homman said Tuesday night that if the question still passes following the counting of provisional ballots, work would begin on the jail “90 days from then.”

“If we didn’t take care of this now, we would be setting up future generations for an uphill battle,” he said. “We appreciate that taxpayers saw the need for this.”

 

Sales tax OK'd

In Clay Center, residents for the third consecutive time voted on a 0.5 percent sales tax to pay for street and city infrastructure improvements. The measure passed 772 to 248.

The tax will be in effect from April 1 through March 31, 2024.

City Clerk Kerry Rozman said the 0.5 percent sales tax would generate about $360,000.

 

Ends in 6-6 tie

In Phillips County, voters in Glade, Speed and Phillipsburg decided sales tax questions.

In Speed, six voters were in favor of instituting a 1 percent sales tax and six were against.

The unofficial results will be canvassed Monday by the Phillips County Commission.

Speed has about 42 residents, City Clerk Donna Studley said prior to the election.

In Glade residents approved, by a vote of 10-4, a 1 percent addition to the local sales tax for the purpose of maintaining the city’s water tower and water distribution system.

The tax will take effect Jan. 1

Phillipsburg voters on Tuesday approved a 0.5 percent sales tax to be used for improvements to the city’s streets, sewer and water systems.

Tim Driggs, Phillipsburg public works supervisor, said prior to the election that more than 40 percent of the city’s curbs were in poor condition and approximately 40 percent of the streets could use preventative maintenance to extend their life.

The tax will replace a 0.5 percent sales tax that is being used to pay off improvements to the city’s sewer plant.

The tax would be permanent, providing from $220,000 to $250,000 annually to the improvement fund, Driggs said.

The tax will take effect Jan. 1.