Committee Reviewed All Options

Committee Reviewed All Options

As a volunteer member of the original
courthouse committee that was selected to make recommendations to the
commissioners I want to make it clear that we, as a committee, reviewed many
options. All of our meetings were public meetings and the times and dates were posted
and often placed in the local papers ahead of time. The newspapers reported to
the public what was happening in the meetings. To suggest that this was all
done in a vacuum or that the committee was biased in any way is not correct. In
fact I volunteered to be a part of the committee because I was very biased
towards keeping our current courthouse building.  I was convinced before attending the first meeting that it was
going to be very hard for me to let go of the historic building.  Anyone that knows me at all knows how much
of a preservationist I am. I’ve restored my great grandparent’s home and am
currently doing restoration to the exterior of my current home. I definitely
wasn’t hand picked because I was biased towards removing the current structure.
In fact the commissioners knew from the start that I was biased in the other
direction. However, there has to be a limit. I truly believe that the true
estimate of restoring the courthouse is the first one that we were submitted
for almost two million dollars. The lower estimate given to us at the spring
meeting wasn’t a full restoration. It was, in my opinion, a partial cheaper
restoration cost that was given to us by the engineer to appease all sides and
was going to leave us a courthouse with patched up stucco and a tin roof
attached to a brand new building.  What
I started to ask myself during this year long process was; “How can I justify
to my grandchildren that we spent two million dollars now so that they could be
taxed again in 50 years to build what we should have done in the first place?”
As we explored the options I could not justify it in my mind and became
convinced that the best use of tax payer money was to do what needed to be done
to provide one building that housed all county government and also provided a
court room that was to the current safety standards of the 21st
century.  My decision that I wrestled
with early in the process was whether I would allow my emotions to make my
decision or whether I would do what is in the best interest of the tax payer. I
too, have to remind myself sometimes that a building is just a building and that
no matter what we try to do it will, sooner or later, come down.

As
a committee we did review restoration of the existing building with an annex
addition added for the court system and county offices. The cost estimate given
to us from experienced engineers that have contracted and oversaw several
public building projects was $4,821,627.31. The meeting was attended by several
people from the public and both newspapers reported on the meeting. The county
can not issue bonds for this amount of money. 
The amount a county can issue bonds for is decided by state statute and
the assessed value of property in the state. 
This wasn’t even a full restoration but the partial restoration I
mentioned before.

The
questions and answers pamphlet handed out at Old Settler’s (they are available
at several businesses) was written by our committee to help people make their
own decision.  I wrote and submitted to
the committee the first draft and then our committee, as a whole, edited and
re-wrote the pamphlet several times, being very careful not to misrepresent any
fact.  We placed all of our names on the
pamphlet. I think that it’s also important to point out that the courthouse
recommendation committee not only unanimously voted their recommendations to
the commissioners but we also 100% voted to transform to a campaign committee because
we believe we’ve made the correct decision. 

I
know that these decisions are always emotional. And I respect anyone’s opinion
whether it’s the same as mine or not. If the ballot were to fail by an 80/20
margin I would be convinced that the public had clearly spoken and we would
want to review the restoration options again. 
I must admit though that I will be surprised if this is the result. I
believe that it is the right time to build a new courthouse in Clark County and
if the voters approve the tax issues to do this I encourage those that want to
preserve the county’s history to focus on how they can make that a reality
also.  As for me, I am voting YES to
both ballots on November 3rd.

            Shawn McAfee

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