York County voters approved a multi-million bond issue Tuesday to address the county’s building needs.
Voters cast 58 percent of their ballots in favor of an $89,769,762 bond issue. The bond will primarily be spent on courtroom-related security issues, as well as space needs at the sheriff’s, prosecutors’ and court officials’ offices across the county.
The “Yes” campaign led with 6,287 votes, with 4,542 voting against the measure, although final results will not be certified until Friday
Tuesday’s apparent victory followed on the heels of a similar, $75 million bond issue that was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin. Many of those needs were revived in the bond that passed this year.
County officials lined up behind the bond, stressing the needs for improved security at York County’s main court facilities, which were mostly built before safety was as much of a concern. The Moss Justice Center on S.C. 5 in York was the single largest item in the bond package, with $38.5 million slated to be spent on the sprawling complex that houses courtroom facilities, prosecutors’ and records offices, the sheriff’s headquarters as well as the county detention center.
The current building is considered too easily accessible to be truly secured, with a long, open hallway that connects multiple offices running the length of the building and multiple doors opening onto the parking lot.
Renovations would include a new front entryway that funnels foot traffic toward a single, secured entrance monitored by sheriff’s deputies. Other doors along the corridor would be inaccessible from the outside, and new security cameras will be installed to make sure no one opens the door after they are admitted to the building.
“These improvements are very important for us to be a progressive county, especially in our courtroom and security features,” Sheriff Bruce Bryant said Tuesday night. “Especially with the failure to pass one a few years ago, that was a concern of ours, but this time I haven’t heard a lot of negative comment.”
The bond also will pay for more office and storage space for sheriff’s and solicitor’s personnel, as well as an additional courtroom.
Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett thanked Chet Miller and the advocacy group Citizens and Business for York County, which “did a good job educating the public on the importance to our public safety of keeping up with future growth.”
Brackett stressed the urgency of the renovations even as the votes poured in. With “Yes” ahead, Brackett said, “I’m taking my shovel to work tomorrow.”
Similar work will be done on the clerk of court and Family Court offices at York County’s Heckle Boulevard office complex in Rock Hill, including construction of a new courtroom building to replace the office’s “mobile” courtroom – housed in a doublewide trailer attached to the side of the main building.
Clerk of Court David Hamilton believes this bond succeeded where the previous one failed by focusing on the most dire needs.
“The list this time is 100 percent needs, in my opinion, and some of them are desperate needs,” Hamilton said.
A positive bond vote would send $26 million to the Heckle complex, $20 million of which would go to construct a new Family Court building. Hamilton hopes work will begin as soon as possible.
Other projects in the bond issue include a new county recycling center and improvements to magistrate’s offices in Fort Mill and Clover.
The bond issue does not affect renovation work on the historic York County Courthouse in downtown York or construction of a new York County administration building, which will be funded separately.