The purpose of this letter is to register a strong complaint against our Commissioners Court regarding their mis-handling and mismanagement of the replacement windows for the Blanco County Courthouse in Johnson City. The “cost” of their mismanagement to our County could be in the millions of dollars.
Why? First, the FACTS:
• State law requires that the Texas Historical Commission (THC) be consulted before modifications to designated historical buildings such as our Court. The Commissioners Court failed to consult with the THC, despite many attempts to do so by the THC.
• The result:
• The State Attorney General levied an $80,000 fine on our County for violating the law
• The County hired an outside attorney, at additional cost, to mediate with the State (why, then, do we elect and pay for a County Attorney?)
• The THC has offered a very attractive compromise
• The Commissioners Court has elected to pay the fine rather than accept the THC’s offer.
The implications of this decision are:
• The County has previously spent $40,000 for a Court House Master Plan, this Plan is the “cost of entry” to compete for up to $6 million in Courthouse Restoration funds provided by the State at a 85/15 match
• According to the THC, Blanco County has a high probability of receiving these funds should they apply. However, if they do not restore the original, historical Courthouse Windows, their probability of receiving the $6 million Grant greatly diminishes.
• If the County restores the original windows, the THC will count that cost as part of the “match” to receive State funds.
(Judge Guthrie refers to the above as a “carrot” approach. Of course it is! That’s the way governments perform.)
The Bottom Line is that our Commissioners Court has, apparently, made a short sighted, costly decision, which violated state law, and will result in our County paying a large fine and losing the opportunity to obtain up to $6 million in Grant funds for Courthouse restoration. The Chart below summarizes this issue. The “answer” seems obvious.
As we used to say in the military: “It’s time to raise the ‘BS’ Flag and stop this nonsense!” Concerned citizens should call their County Commissioner and voice their opinion.
Pay The Fine
• Cost of Legal Fees
• Costs another $70,000 on top of the replacement window cost
• Requires indefinite storage of the old windows
• Virtually guarantees that Blanco County will never qualify for a Courthouse Restoration Program grant of up to $6 million
Take THC’s Offer
• Complies with the Law
• Maintains historical viability of the courthouse
• Improves chances of a Courthouse Restoration Grant; $175,000 rehab cost would count against county’s cash portion of matching grant
• Avoids storage cost of old windows
Comparison by Jack Twilley