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Editorial: Judges, County Attorney, and Sheriff to the Citizens Ellis County

To the Citizens of Ellis County

From: Edward E. Bouker and Glenn R. Braun, district judges; Ross Wichman, Hays municipal judge; Thomas J. Drees, Ellis County attorney; and Ed Harbin, Ellis County sheriff

The Ellis County Commission is faced with the need to make significant renovations to our jail and courthouse in order to protect the safety and security of its citizens. The question now is how to pay for these projects — by using a 0.5 percent sales tax or raising property taxes? Ellis County voters will decide on May 14 what they prefer.

Our jail is at maximum capacity, and we house an average of 16 inmates out of county every day, at an annual cost of more than $200,000. Inmates are walked from the jail through the courthouse for hearings intermingling with the public, jurors, witnesses and court staff.

Most of these are felons with serious charges such as aggravated battery/assault, robbery, child sex offenses and distribution of drugs. They are using the same restrooms, hallways, and waiting areas as you and I.

The courthouse is a great building but after 70 years is in need of updating to improve security. The renovation project will give us one dedicated, staffed entrance equipped with a metal detector. The jail will be redesigned to add more cells and give jailers complete surveillance of all inmates. Holding cells will be constructed so that inmates will be separated from the public and moved from the jail to courtroom without use of the public hallways.

Anyone who has served on a jury or conducted business in the courthouse with inmates walking past understands the need for improved security. The public and courthouse staff deserve to be safe and secure. This project has been studied for over 10 years. Now is an opportune time to provide the necessary security improvements to the jail and courthouse.

The election on May 14 lets the voters decide. The sales tax, if passed, will sunset in five years, earlier if the bonds are paid off. The question is: Do you want to pay for these projects with a sales tax or an increase in property taxes?

—Edward E. Bouker and Glenn R. Braun, district judges; Ross Wichman, Hays municipal judge; Thomas J. Drees, Ellis County attorney; and Ed Harbin, Ellis County sheriff

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  • Frank

    Uhm, actually, that ISN’T the question. The question is not about which one they prefer, but whether they shall approve a sales tax increase to fund this project. There are plenty of people who want neither. They simply want a better plan to pay for it. This “vote YES or else” mentality is sitting pretty sour with a lot of folks. Stop threatening the citizens you are supposed(and paid) to serve.

  • over taxed and fed up

    So, the County has a plan to move the County Offices to the old Commerce Bank Building, so most of the Public traffic will be at that location. Commissioner Wasinger made the statement that 10 to 15 years ago there was a report that changes should have been made to alleviate the overcrowding issues. So in typical City of Hays and Ellis County inaction, the issue was kicked down the road. Both entities could have used those years to put monies back to fund this issue through some actual common sense actions. Instead they wait until they claim it has reached “critical Mass” and then cram it down the throats of the citizens of Ellis County. Maybe we should have forgone the new pool, soccer complex, library additions and addressed the more “important issues” that face this community. I’m glad some of the communities have decided to keep the extra 1/2 cent tax to address their own infrastructure and other issues that need to addressed in those communities.

    • http://hays.com soooo true

      I think the city has their prioritys confused.

  • a

    So basically pick your poison right?

  • kansan forever

    Courthouse renovations may be needed but to add in the ems/fire at this time is killing the chances of passage of the sales tax. I for one am sick and tired of a sales tax being implemented for a pet project only to expire and be renewed for another project. What ever happened to saving money to do projects instead of taxing and financing things?? As for the threat of raising property taxes if the sales tax doesn’t pass, just try it and and I will bet a petetion will force that to ballot also

  • torrie

    Buildings don’t last forever, the cost of taking care of this building and housing prisoners else where is costing more than doing the up grades…….as much as I don’t want to be taxed anymore, it is time to do something. I will be voting to do the renovations.

  • Chris

    All you ‘taxed enough’ people are absolutely ridiculous. Gotta have something to complain about right? For every $1,000 you spend on purchases in the county, this will cost you an extra $5. So, if you forgo your McDonalds Big Mac once in a while, or drink water instead of buying a couple bottles of pop, then you’ve just made that $5 back. You are complaining that you don’t want to have to spend half of a cent per dollar to help the infrastructure of the county, that allows for a safer, healthier place to live.

    Next time sanitation services need improvements, lets vote that down too. What does a little sewage running down the street matter anyways? Next time your growing city needs more maintenance vehicles for such things are fixing roads and plowing snow, lets vote that down too. Who cares about potholes and flat tires anyways? Next time the city attempts to make it self better by putting in pools, sport complexes, or library addition, lets vote that down too. Why do kids need things to do and book to read anyways? Lets allow the ignorance to filter down a few more generations. Next time the city wants to add more emergency service personnel in order to better serve the growing city, lets vote that down too. Why not just give everyone a shotgun and go back to vigilante justice?

    Who needs growth? Who needs to progress? Who needs to meet goals to make the place they live in the best possible?

    Most of you that comment would want to live in a city that is growing, that is progressing, and that is making itself stand out as a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

    But as soon as you have to cut a penny in half for every dollar you spend to make this happen, you scream NO!

    You’ll scream NO, and be smug when it gets voted down. Then you’ll complain about the next thing–the schools not performing well, the streets in disrepair, the snow not getting plowed fast enough, the increased drug flow into town, and the thugs that walk the streets even after multiple arrests.

    • Citizen

      We already pay taxes for all these thing you mention. Maybe you should do some research and not believe all the commissioners scare tactics. How many pennies are you willing to pay before you think it is too much.

      • http://hays.com soooo true

        This city will spend dime to save a nickle. This work for the county NEEDS to be done no two ways about it. The city is the place the waste is taking place.

    • Blind r

      Why should I have to give up anything for your pet projects?

  • http://hayspost.com Uncle Thomas

    Why was this not gradually updated as we went along, Its not as if this is a new problem, why didn’t we save money all along?
    THE COMMISSIONERS FAILED TO DO THERE JOBS>>>>>>>YES SWEDE>>>I”M TALKING TO YOU!

    • Chris

      Since we dont have a working model of the time machine, there’s not much we can do about that. However, I live in the present, and look to the future. It’s a lot better view than grumbling about the past.

      Oh, and why don’t homeowners gradually replace their roofs one section at a time, or sod a quarter of their yard every spring? Why not gradually build a house over twenty years, rather than taking a loan and having it built in 6 months?

      Your logic isn’t adding up.

      • Frank

        We don’t need a time machine to ask those in charge about their inaction and hold them accountable. People patch their roofs and patch their yards with sod everyday. Wise people also save their money to pay for home repairs and remodeling. Your analogies don’t add up.

        • Chris

          My dear Frank, replacing a roof and patching a roof are completely different things. We have been patching our jail by sending inmates to other facilities. Patching is just forestalling the inevitable.

          My analogies add up very nicely. You might just need a calculator to get the correct answer.

  • Uncle Thomas

    I will vote yes!
    Irritates the heck out of me, but I will vote yes for the progress of the community.
    Yes the problems have been present for years. Yes some of the prime real estate has been used for records storage in the jail. Let’s face it “we” have elected maggots that feed off our tax dollars. The Sheriff is a puppet…as most elected officials. They do not want to make waves, they want to smile and keep their pay checks! If any of these folks ran a private business where they had to “make things happen” they would fail. The system allows…

  • http://hayspost.com Cousin Johnny

    I vote “NO”, let them raise my property taxes. If it does not pass maybe they will at least trim down these projects a little bit. Especially that EMS/FIRE building, its just a lot of money.

  • dumb person

    Chris take no offense when i say this , since i personally do not know you, but your statement makes you sound like a guy that will replace a whole car because it needs new tires, and an oil change.
    What i want to know is, why was this fire/ems building, jail house thing NOT taken care of over time, is there a real reason ????. was hays so broke that we could not afford it? what about now ? do we trust the people running our government? if not, how did they get there? is there not a way to impeach them, get them out of office so that someone who knows how to do things can get in there and do the right things? can somebody enlighten me? PLEASE

    • Informed Citizen

      The problem isn’t that we need new tires. The problem is the car is 30 years old with 300000 miles on it. You can patch and repair and change fluids to make that car run a little longer but eventually it will actually be cheaper to a purchase a car that runs great, has no problems, and will fit the whole family in it. There, another analogy for you. And to everyone involved in these responses. Try and remember that “Hays” and “Ellis County” are two separate entities. One exists within the other. This is NOT the city asking for this. These are NOT city departments asking for new buildings. This is the county and the county alone. While the city may benefit from a newer jail and expanded EMS building this is not a city issue. Im tired of people making claims that they are one in the same when they are not. Not to harp on you here but I noticed you said Hays in the above post.

      • http://hayspost.com Cousin Johnny

        As far as the EMS/FIRE station project that is a Central Ellis County issue but the entire county is being ask to pay for it!

        • Shameful

          Well as much as I don’t want this to happen what u said is not true. It’s Ellis county EMS. Not hays EMS or Ellis EMS. So as it stands they have trucks in Ellis, Hays, and Victoria. Whatch out Ellis. Your next for a new building courtesy of Ellis county leaders and your higher taxes.

  • RealityCheck

    The big gov. GOP is at again. Vote yes or we raise property taxes. I agree with Frank. They come off very threatening in this. Maybe they should practice a little responsibility and apologize for lack of planning and start saving now for new facilities in say: 10 years?

  • http://hayspost.com Cousin Johnny

    Swede has been the worst about threatening…….I am very disappointed in that man!

  • http://www.hayspost.com Problem

    The County has done a very poor job with this.

  • Shameful

    Why don’t they just threaten the police on us or take away our water. Way to take a totalitarian attitude there civic leaders. Good example your setting.

  • http://hayspost.com typical

    I’ve followed this from early on and never once did they say property taxes would be increased until they seen some opposition, then they start threatening to raise taxes no matter what.