Judicial complex concerns addressed at forum

Kevin Wilson

The Curry County Commission held its second public forum on upcoming ballot questions for the first phase of the county criminal justice complex.

There was more attendance and more complex support than in last week’s meeting, but opposition still ran high at the Clovis-Carver Public Library to the tax increases that would fund courthouse and detention center renovations.

The second of two forums drew 17 residents, who saw a video on the facilities and heard judges and county commissioners speak on safety issues and the need for upgrades.

The complex will be decided through two separate ballot questions Nov. 2 — a property tax increase for the courthouse and a gross receipts tax for the jail. Both would bring in $16.5 million each.

Residents asked if the county had looked into less expensive possibilities.

“I feel this thing’s being shoved down my throat,” Hank Bruner of Clovis said. “I’ve never heard anybody say anything prior as to what options are available.

“I look at that film as propaganda; I don’t look at it as informative.”

County Manager Lance Pyle said when a firm was hired to look into a master plan for the county, it looked at options like moving the jail to alternate sites.

J.W. Graham said he felt the commission would saddle too many taxes on residents and incoming military personnel, while Al Lewis felt it was unfair that only property owners would be paying for the courthouse.

Commissioner Wendell Bostwick said the county is putting the maximum allowable amount of gross receipts taxes into the equation, and it wouldn’t be enough without property taxes.

Norvil Howell of Clovis said he planned to vote for the ballot questions because it was for the betterment of the county, and George Krattiger noted the low bond rates make the complex a cheap investment compared to other years.

Portales attorney Eric Dixon said some of the overcrowding problems at the courthouse would be fixed if cases weren’t moved from Portales, and that jail numbers could be lower if jail terms weren’t steep for non-violent offenders. He added that he’d been in the Curry County Courthouse countless times and didn’t have the security nightmares the county’s video indicated.

Information about the ballot questions is available at vote.currycounty.org.