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Potter County commissioners bypass voters for new district courts building: Approve $54 million for project using COs

Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner
On Monday, Potter County commissioners voted 4-1 to bypass voters and use certificates of obligation to fund a new district courts building. Commissioners approved $54 million for the project to be built on the former Potter County Sheriff's Office site located in downtown Amarillo.

Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner defended the use of certificates of obligation to fund the new court building versus a bond election.

"The local government code allows us to do COs. It is the quickest and easiest way to do this.

"If we do a bond election it could fail. I'm not trying to hide anything from the taxpayer. I certainly am not.

"All I am asking for them to do is to walk through that building and they will know why we are in such a necessity for a new building," Tanner said.

Potter County Precinct 2 commissioner Mercy Murguia cast her vote against the project. Murguia cited the $54 million price tag and concerns that the citizens of Potter County needed to be better informed about how their taxpayer money is being used.

“The district courts building is a project we have been looking at for a long time. Really, the dollar amount of that project is where my dissenting vote is.

"When we originally started talking about this project, there was discussion of it going to a vote. We just took on $20 million in toward our Law Enforcement Center and I was the dissenting vote on that because I knew we would have the district court building project coming up.
Mercy Murguia

“We talked about plans if it didn’t pass, what would be the ramifications of that, so I feel that is the direction the court went.

"I absolutely feel we have a diligence to inform the voters and help them understand their dollars. This is their building," Murguia said.

Tanner stood firm that the current district courts building must be replaced.

“The strategic plan we did was very successful. The number one thing on the strategic plan was to replace the district courts building. There are issues with the HVAC system, sewer, tiles and security.

"I also have letters from three of five attorneys that practice law in there saying all of this needs to be fixed or replaced.

"It will be right in the smack dab middle of that lot and it will have parking in the back, secured parking for judges which is much needed right now, our security features are terrible and security is a big deal these days, it is a big deal," Tanner said.

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