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Coleman County voters to decide on $9.1 million bond for new LEC

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COLEMAN, Texas - Coleman County residents are deciding whether to vote for a $9.1 million bond that'll fund a new law enforcement center and jail.

Last week, county officials held town hall meetings at Santa Anna, Novice, Voss, Lake Coleman, and Coleman to discuss their plans for a new LEC. They want to replace the current jail, which has been in use for 127 years.

Coleman County Judge Billy Bledsoe said the feedback they received last week from constituents was positive.

"We did what we thought was the best idea and we've now put it out there to see [what] the county … thinks," Bledsoe said on Monday.

The $9.1 million bond would fund a 48-bed facility with many improvements.

But if the bond passes, property owners will see a tax increase of 15 cents for every $100 valuation. This means a home valued at $100,000 will pay an additional $150 per year in taxes.

Bledsoe hopes to not use all the funds and will look to reduce the costs if voters approve it.

"I don't know if we'll have a plan B," Bledsoe said. "I guess we'll cross that bridge after May 6."

Coleman County Sheriff Les Cogdill said the county spends between $35-50 per inmate in contracts with three other county jails -- Taylor, Runnels, and Mills. That's at a cost of $12,000 a month, according to county officials.

"It's actually taking deputies out of the county to do transports," Cogdill said. He said travel isn't included in that figure.

The current facility can only house nine inmates and the majority of those arrested in Coleman County are drug offenders, according to Sheriff Cogdill.

Cogdill believes the jail will be closed sooner rather than later if voters don't approve the bond.

"I have no control over the jail commission," Cogdill said. "One of these days, they're going to come in and say the time is now."

Polls are open at the courthouse from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday until May 2, when early voting ends. Election Day is scheduled for May 6.

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