Commissioners to consider tax increases for judicial complex

The question of whether to pass tax increases to pay for a new $33 million judicial complex will be put to Curry County commissioners Wednesday.

A plan to develop the complex calls for a general obligation bond of $16.5 million and a .25 percent gross receipts tax increase to be voted on in the November general election.

The general obligation bond would bring about a $91 increase to the annual property taxes to homeowners with a $250,000 home or an increase of a little more than $16 on a home valued at $50,000, according to figures compiled by financial advisors.

And businesses would charge an additional .25 percent on goods and services in the county under the gross receipts tax increase.

The meeting is being held Wednesday instead of Tuesday because of the holiday and will be held in the commission room at the courthouse.

If adopted, both measures would be placed before voters in the November general election.

The plan was unveiled at the June 22 commission meeting by Albuquerque architectural firm Rohde, May, Keller, McNamara, hired by the county to study the need for and means to expand county and state court facilities.

If commissioners approve a finance plan to be presented by financial advisor Kevin Powers, the process of publishing public notices will be the first step towards passing an ordinance, said County Manager Lance Pyle.

With the election drawing closer, Pyle said if bonds are the choice of the commission, things have to start happening soon to get the issues placed on the ballot.

The plan for creating a “Curry County Criminal Justice Complex” involves acquiring and developing all property between Main and Mitchell streets from Seventh to 10th Street.

The project would take place in multiple phases of demolition, renovation and construction, resulting in a three-block complex that includes improved parking and landscaping.

The complex has been planned to meet the county’s needs through 2025, officials have said.

Overcrowding at the jail, concerns over courthouse security in an aging facility and growing county agencies and offices are cited as reasons for the complex.

Currently the county is still paying for bonds passed in 2001 to start building the events center. Those bonds account for about eight percent of the county’s bond capacity.

Prior to that, bond funds were used in the early 1990s to build the current jail.

Traditionally, Curry County has not used many bonds, Pyle said.

“We’re a very conservative county and the county commission has a plan to go to the year 2025 to make improvements to the detention facility as well as to address the court security issues,” he said.

“This is a need for the community and this is a way we can get this need addressed and prepare for new growth of our community.”