August 21, 2014

York County may decide bond with special election

York County may hold a special election March 10 to decide whether to borrow for building projects.

York County may hold a special election March 10 to decide whether to borrow for building projects.

The York County Council is considering borrowing money to build a new government center in York, a new “eastside” government center that could include up to 60 jail cells in eastern York County, and improvements to the Moss Justice Center in York.

A consultant’s study recently estimated the cost of the projects at $82 million. The council has proposed borrowing $60 million.

The council had intended holding a referendum on the general election date of Nov. 4. The council, however, decided there wasn’t enough time to promote the referendum and delayed action.

Resident opposition for a eastern York County judicial center near Rock Hill’s Riverwalk development also delayed the effort.

Council members, Sheriff Bruce Bryant, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, Clerk of Court David Hamilton and County Manager Bill Shanahan have said the projects are needed because some county buildings are too old and too costly to operate, county services are spread out over more than 50 locations, and some offices are crowded, especially the judicial and sheriff’s offices.

Shanahan said Monday the council would need to approve a referendum by Nov. 3 to have it before voters on March 10.

The council is considering putting the projects before the voters individually. In that case, voters would have the option of voting, for instance, in favor of Moss Justice Center improvements while also voting in favor of or against one of the other projects included in the referendum.

York County Council Chairman Britt Blackwell said the county needs to be “concrete, assertive and decisive” in what it puts before the voters. The county is 15 years behind in building construction and improvements, he said.

In 2006, voters rejected by a 2-to-1 margin buying bonds to build or improve the county jail, court facilities, customer service centers, a recycling center and cultural venues.

Council members have said the county cannot afford to have a similar outcome this time.

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