Capital improvement needs exposed |

The Kerr County Commissioners’ Court formed a Capital Improvement Planning Committee two years ago to study and prioritize issues that need to be addressed over the next two years in order to preserve and improve services to residents. long-term community.

Committee members were tasked with thinking ahead for the next 25 to 30 years; and they have now identified a few key projects ahead of a proposed bond election in November 2022.

Last week’s tour venues included:

• Hill Country Youth Event Center, in particular its indoor arena;

• Installation of Animal Control Services;

• New site proposed for Animal Services;

• West Kerr County Annex;

• The main downtown courthouse, including security, redevelopment of facilities, file storage and its IT department;

• Proposed site of the new tax office.

In the near future, tours of the identified project sites (lasting approximately 3 hours) will be offered to civic groups and the public. Currently, tours are offered to county officials and department heads only, with a few media representatives included for community coverage.

Tour members have been and will be offered “behind the scenes” on current conditions, areas needing attention and what county officials and IPC members believe are solutions moving forward.

IPC member Pete Calderon did not call any of the following “wants”, saying all of them are “needs, right now.”

CIP members said a 30-year bond would cost individual county taxpayers about $ 20 each per year.

The other members of the committee are Dr. Robert Templeton, Ingram ISD; Jason Reeves, JK Bernhard Construction; Chris Hughes; Brenda Hughes, Buzzie’s BBQ; and Fred Henneke, lawyer and former county judge.

HCYEC indoor arena

Members of the IPC said the issues did not include any upgrades or improvements since it opened 38 years ago. The electrical system does not comply with the code; the roof needs to be replaced; there is no fire extinguisher system; no bathroom in the barn; and lighting, ventilation, drainage and insulation all need to be repaired.

They propose to bring the electrical system up to standard, add fire extinguishing and replace the insulation and the roof; as well as adding accessible toilets and improving lighting, drainage and ventilation.

This building of approximately 20,000 square feet currently brings in approximately $ 175,000 in annual revenues; and the overall economic impact of the annual cattle show weekend is approximately $ 500,000. It is also the county’s designated trauma and evacuation center.

“But many event planners are opting out of renting the Hill Country Youth Event Center due to the condition of the facility and lack of amenities,” said IPC member Pete Calderon.

He called this proposal “not a reconstruction but a facelift by Joan Rivers” after previous work was “patchwork”; including a concrete floor (on which dirt could be laid and removed), a self-contained generator, better doors and more security.

He said members of 4-H are the primary users, but portions are also used for voting, COVID testing, as shelter and rented for events.

Animal control

The current facility on Loop 534 is deteriorating, undersized with insufficient kennels and offices; no temperature-controlled storage for food and medical supplies; and limited space for cages, traps and department files, in addition to not being ADA compliant for citizens.

Kerr County has already purchased 16 acres of land abutting Road & Bridge Department on Spur 100; and proposes to construct a new larger pet facility on four acres of this land.

The remainder would expand parking and vehicle storage for Road & Bridge.

CIP members say the new ACS building could be designed to include examination rooms; training rooms; isolation areas; laundry and showers; and accessible parking and entrance areas for stray animal drop-off and adoption services. And where the acreage has drainage issues, some could be left “in the wild” for outdoor exercise classes and occasional livestock picked up by officers.

Animal Services supporters / volunteers said they wanted a “good and sick” side to the building; and a much larger public hall and offices for staff.

They said the current facility (originally a private home) could be sold to support the development of new businesses and offset the cost of the new facility.

The mission of ACS is to protect animals from public dangers and to protect citizens and property from the dangers of uncontrolled animals; and these assistant officers serve the 1,100 square miles of Kerr County.

West Kerr Annex

The West Kerr County Government Annex building was originally designed as an animal care facility; and members of the CIP deem it “barely sufficient to serve Ward 4, the largest in the county”.

PCT 4 Justice of the Peace Bill Ragsdale and members of the IPC said the building lacks office space and is not ADA compliant; has a single-sex toilet; lack of storage; has insufficient security and limited parking; and is rented by the county at ever increasing costs.

The CIP’s proposal is that a 6,000 square foot facility (more than double its current size) be built on county-owned land on State Hwy 27 West across Johnson Creek, to include a sheriff’s post, a gendarme’s office, a courtroom and a tax office.

Currently, when required as a voting site, the Ragsdale courtroom is used; and the storage cupboard doubles as a jury room for trials. The building houses PCT. 4 justice of the peace and constable, and the West Kerr tax office, with only eight parking spaces opposite.

Court

The facts listed about the county government indicate that the main downtown building was built in 1926; is one of the county’s 11 facilities; houses 329 full-time and 14 part-time employees; has 16 existing access points; and is used by approximately 25,000 residents each year. And now the state has sent out an unfunded warrant to provide larger rooms to house 12-person juries.

The committee’s notes said it was built without modern security, technology and communications systems.

The CIP is proposing to move the tax office on county property to 600 Earl Garrett, along with hopefully drive-thru capability. The relocation of this office will create space for a jury room; and the IT department can also be extended with security measures including cameras and door access panels.

During the tour, the IT department with at least 3 employees and several IT racks were presented in a hallway / closet connecting two larger departments.

And Bob Reeves, Assessor-Collector, opened up the single storage area for what he called “Eternal Records,” certain categories of County Records, including Large Bound Property Records, and others that are required. by the state to be kept in their original form forever.

Storage as a whole is a bigger issue, they said. The county has 36 departments and all of them require more designated space due to state law requiring manual retention of paper files. The volume of recordings storage has exceeded current boxed storage areas, they said; and file recovery is difficult and cumbersome.

The solution proposed by the CIP is to use the county property to build a new storage facility and make it air conditioned; with a drive-thru option for loading and unloading.

Some departments have already moved items to the old Legion Drive juvenile detention center, where at least it was built with more lockable secure spaces.

County officials have also purchased and renovated the two-story building at 550 Earl Garrett for the new Public Defenders Office, which the multi-county group leases from officials in Kerr.

The CIP group has been working since 2019 to identify projects that will address the needs of the county’s facilities and ensure responsible growth; and the “administrative campus” at 550 and 600 Earl Garrett is the result of their work.

CIP notes indicate that Kerr now unofficially has 52,298 residents, a 6% growth since 2010.


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Jennifer R. Strohm

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