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County begins formal plans for renovations





In a way, the voters' approval of a 0.5-percent county sales tax was just the beginning of the process, not the end.

Now, county officials start making plans for the project, approved in Tuesday's special election. Total cost is $14.3 million, once interest cost is added.

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund had meetings planned Friday with the architect and department heads to discuss the construction of the new EMS/rural fire building. There also are plans for expansion and renovation to the county jail, Law Enforcement Center and courthouse.

As well, separate from the sales tax, but linked with the renovations, is the county's taking over of the Commerce Bank building at 718 Main, where most of the county offices will be relocated.

Also to be renovated at some point is the county building at 601 Main. That building, as well as the Commerce Bank building, will be financed through the budgetary process.

"I've got a timeline for Commerce building and EMS/rural fire," Sund said. "I'm still waiting for one for the courthouse and jail."

The architect for the Commerce building anticipates construction will end in March, Sund said. The EMS/rural fire building will have a 10- to 12-month construction period, beginning at the end of November and ending in late October 2014, Sund said.

"It depends on each building," Sund said of drawing up final plans. "For instance, with the EMS building, (the architect) thinks it's going to take 10 weeks to produce construction drawings. That will be mid-July through most of September.

"We have not produced final drawings yet. There's a lot of conversations that have to happen yet."

Among other items on the agenda, Ellis County commissioners have to pass a resolution to notify the state to put on the sales tax, starting in October, and the county also has to sell the bond issue.

Tuesday's election had 18 percent turnout, and the sales tax passed with 82 percent of the vote. In Ellis, the measure passed with 75 percent of the vote, while in Schoenchen, it was 92 percent. In the Victoria area, 84 percent of voters approved, while in Hays, it was 83 percent.

"I think everybody's pretty happy that it passed," Sund said. "They're looking forward to getting into the design process.

"I think a lot of people would have liked to start yesterday. They want to get this going."