Majority Of New Jail Committee Presents Petitions To Commissioner's Court

A petition was presented to the Smith County Commissioners requesting the Commissioners not to place any jail proposal on the November ballot.  Additional time to develop a master plan for the county will help address the future needs for new jail facilities.

The members of the New Smith County Jail Committee agree that the County needs additional jail space, but a majority of the committee members believe that the County must develop a new proposal in conjunction with a master plan. Out of the 47 members of the New Smith County Jail Committee, 29 members returned their signed petitions which request the Smith County Commissioners Court not put either of the proposals presented and defeated in the May 13, 2006, bond election, or any proposal on the ballot for a November 2006 election. The petitions also request the Commissioners Court to develop a new plan in conjunction with the development of a Master Plan, setting out the Commissioners Court's plan for addressing our infrastructure needs for the next 25-30 years.

Committee member, John O'Sullivan said, "The 80 million dollar proposal for a new downtown jail would have been the largest investment ever made by Smith County." Mr. O'Sullivan continued, "This project must be developed in such a way so that it will complement the County's existing investments in infrastructure." Based upon the number of signed petitions, a majority of the committee agrees.

The twenty-nine committee members signing petitions are made up of both former No-No Committee members and others. Also, some former members of the No-No Committee, who are members of the New Jail Committee, did not sign the petition. The 29 New Jail Committee members, who ask the Commissioner's Court to propose a Master Plan for the county and who are asking the Commissioner's Court to not put either of the May 13 failed bond election proposals or any proposal on the ballot for a November 2006 election, are not just an extension of the former No No Committee..

Committee members believe that the issues facing Smith County are too important for a bond election to fail again. A majority of the New Jail Committee believe that failure is the likely result if either of the two failed jail proposals are placed back on the November ballot.

At the June 5, 2006 meeting of the New Jail Committee and the Commissioners' Court, the Commissioner's Court asked committee members whether the committee would support placing either of the failed proposals back on the ballot for a November 2006 election. Becky Dempsey stated that she did not believe there was time to develop a new proposition for November; and therefore, Dempsey stated that placing a proposition before the votes in November would require putting one of the two failed propositions back on the ballot. A majority of the committee believes this would be a serious mistake.

Once the committee and the Commissioners Court resolve the issue of the November 2006 election, a majority of the committee believes that the two groups can come together to begin the hard work needed to develop a new proposition in conjunction with a Master Plan that will function with and compliment the existing buildings owned by the county.