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BENTONVILLE -- Benton County's Committee of the Whole got an update on the proposed courts building at a meeting Thursday night.

Shayan Dehbozorgi with Hight Jackson Associates gave about a 15-minute slide presentation at the County Administration Building. Hight Jackson is the firm hired to design work on the project.

Town Hall Schedule

Benton County Judge Barry Moehring will hold a series of town hall meetings to discuss the special election and proposed sales tax increase. The schedule is:

• Feb. 5: Gravette Civic Center, 401 Charlotte St. SE, 6 p.m.

• Feb. 6: Garfield, Northeast Benton County Fire Department, 14639 S. Wimpy Jones Road, 6 p.m.

• Feb. 13: Prairie Creek, 14432 Arkansas 12 East, 6 p.m.

• Feb. 15: Bella Vista, Riordan Hall, 3 Riordan Drive, 10 a.m.

• Feb. 20: Bella Vista, District Court, 612 W. Lancashire Blvd., 6 p.m.

• Feb. 21: Pea Ridge, City Hall, 977 Weston St., 6 p.m.

• Feb. 25: Lowell, City Hall, 216 N. Lincoln St., 6 p.m.

• Feb. 27: Bentonville, Judge Robin Green’s courtroom, 6 p.m.

• March 4: Siloam Springs, Siloam Springs Library, 205 E. Jefferson St., 6 p.m.

• March 5: Rogers, Benton County Annex, 2111 W. Walnut St., 6 p.m.

Election Day is March 12.

Source: Benton County

Early Voting Sites

Early voting sites for the special election for a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase for a proposed $30 million courthouse will be:

• County Clerk’s Office, 215 E. Central Ave., Suite 217, Bentonville

• County Clerk’s Office, 2109 W. Walnut St., Rogers

• County Clerk’s Office, 707 S. Lincoln St., Siloam Springs

• First Landmark Baptist Church, 206 S.E. 28th St., Bentonville

• Riordan Hall, 3 Riordan Road, Bella Vista

• Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, 506 Enterprise Dr., Lowell

• Reach Church, 900 W. Centerton Blvd., Centerton

Early voting will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 5-8 and March 11. Election day is March 12.

Source: Benton County Election Commission

A special election for a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase for a proposed $30 million courthouse will be held March 12. The tax would be for 54 months if approved, according to documents. The county has approved a building design and site on Northeast Second Street in downtown Bentonville. The one-eighth-cent tax would equal $1.25 on every $1,000 in sales, County Judge Barry Moehring said.

The Election Commission met Thursday afternoon in Rogers to approve the ballot, seven early voting sites and 33 vote center locations for election day.

Russell Anzalone, commission chairman, said he expects a better turnout for the election compared to past special elections.

"I think it will be much higher," he said. "It's the courthouse, it's a sales tax election."

Kim Dennison, election coordinator, told the Committee of the Whole early voting will be March 5-8 and March 11. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The election will cost about $30,000, Dennison told committee members.

The courts proposal will consolidate the courts, add an element of safety and make it more convenient for those who go to court, Moehring said.

"We are bursting at the seams now," Moehring told the committee.

The circuit court judges are spread among buildings close to the downtown square and the Juvenile Judicial Center near the jail. Judges Robin Green, John Scott and Xollie Duncan are in the main courthouse. Judge Brad Karren is across the street in the annex building, and Judge Doug Schrantz is in a building on Main Street. Judge Tom Smith is at the Juvenile Center.

Green, Scott, Duncan, Karren and Schrantz would hold court in the new building, while Smith would remain at the Juvenile Center.

The new building would be 87,000 square feet. There would be four stories and a basement. The top story would be finished later with two more courtrooms. There also would be a Sally port and secure holding area. Moehring said the building would have a 50- to 100-year lifespan. Work would start in the summer if voters pass the sales tax, Moehring said.

Moehring will hold 10 town hall meetings across the county to discuss the issue. The first will be 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Gravette Civic Center. Moehring also plans to speak to civic groups or organizations about the election and sales tax.

Moehring showed the presentation he'll give to those in attendance on Thursday night.

The Committee of the Whole also moved a proposal to the Quorum Court to change the committee schedule and meeting times. The plan was first brought up at an organizational meeting Jan. 10.

The plan is to use a Finance/Budget Committee, Committee of the Whole and Quorum Court format, and eliminate other committees, according to a memo from Moehring. The Finance/Budget Committee will include all justices of the peace.

Agenda items that in the past would have been considered by a committee would be considered by the Committee of the Whole. Items could be non-financial ordinances and resolutions, department reports and similar items, according to a memo from Moehring.

Moehring can consider forming temporary subcommittees on specific issues if necessary on the recommendation of the Quorum Court.

The five-member Grievance Council will continue to operate under a separate ordinance, Moehring said.

There were committees for Finance/Budget, Legislative, Personnel, Public Safety, and Transportation in past years.

Moehring's proposal also included changing the meeting times for Finance Committee, Committee of the Whole and Quorum Court.

Finance would meet the second Tuesday of the month, Committee of the Whole the third Tuesday and Quorum Court the fourth Thursday. Meetings would start at 6 p.m.

NW News on 01/18/2019

Print Headline: Committee of the Whole hears courts update

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