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‘Not the right time': Smith County judge to ask commissioners to pause new courthouse plans

Published: May. 13, 2020 at 6:39 PM CDT
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TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the economy will likely delay plans for a new Smith County Courthouse, according to Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran.

“The plan for me is to ask the court to just simply hit the pause button on this project," Moran said.

Before the pandemic, the plan was for Smith County voters to decide on a bond proposal in November, but Moran said he thinks it would be irresponsible to ask the public to take on an additional economic burden right now.

“I think asking the public to actually vote on that in November would be the wrong direction to take," Moran said.

And while plans for a vote would be on pause, Moran said planning will continue to ensure the proposal is fine-tuned and ready for voters to decide on.

“The work we’ve done up to this point on the courthouse planning project has been very beneficial and will be beneficial in the future," Moran said. "There’s no question that the need is there and that at some point it needs to be presented to the public for a vote. That will happen, and all the work we’ve done up to this point will be presented to the public when the time is right. This is just not the right time.”

In February, county commissioners agreed the east side of the downtown square was the best possible location for a new courthouse.

Moran said budget talks have already started for the county. County leaders are reviewing budget requests and plan to sit down for face-to-face meetings later this month.

“During the upcoming budget we really need to focus on what are the core responsibilities to the citizens," Moran said. “Households are going to have to make some tough decisions this summer and fall, and I anticipate we are going to have to as well, and we should.”

Moran said funds in the county’s reserves will help supplement a decrease in revenue from fines and fees and a decrease in sales tax revenue.

“When Noah built the ark, he didn’t build it in a year. He built it over decades and he prepared for the rain that was coming. And there’s a good lesson in that," Moran said.

See more on this story tonight on KLTV 7 News at 6.

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