Plans to conduct a second bond election in February to fund a county courthouse and jail renovation and expansion project have been postponed.
Grand County commissioners decided in their first meeting of the year to wait to call another special election on the proposed multimillion-dollar bond issue at least until late spring.Commission Chairman David Knutson said the coming month is too soon to put the issue before voters again, and perhaps by waiting until spring the commission will be able to come up with a less costly alternative building plan.
"There's a perception out there that we're trying to force the issue, and we don't want to do that, so at this point in time, we ought to say everything's in limbo," Knutson said.
"Also, there's a psychological advantage to springtime," he added.
The decision to postpone was in response to a report from County Clerk Fran Townsend that people were already requesting absentee ballots for the election that commissioners last month contemplated scheduling for February.
Former Commissioner Ferne Mullen last month had agreed with Knutson that the project should be put to voters again soon. But as of last week, it was too late to get the issue on the ballot by February, Knutson said.
February had been tentatively targeted because the state Permanent Community Impact Board had given the county until then to pass the bond issue, he said.
About two weeks prior to the October election, the CIB offered the county a $1.7 million interest-free loan for the project, provided the referendum passed. The loan would have lowered the overall interest rate on the total funding package to 3.5 percent over a 30-year period.
Despite the state support, 52 percent of the voters on Oct. 23 rejected the proposal, which would have authorized the county to issue up to $4.5 million in general obligation bonds to renovate the county building and expand jail and court facilities.
Officials say the jail is overcrowded and inadequate, county offices and the courts need more space and upstairs access for the handicapped, electrical and ventilation systems are below standard, and there are other life-safety code violations.
Knutson said the county will let the CIB know this month that plans for another special election have been postponed beyond the February deadline and hope that the state board will consider recommitting to an assistance loan later in the year.