A deal between Liberty County and property owner Jesse Lopez took one step toward completion following action taken by commissioners court during an early morning meeting on Thursday. Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of 39 acres of land from Lopez for the purpose of a future law enforcement center. The purchase is not to exceed $530,000, including closing costs.
The property is located on SH 146 just north of North Main Baptist Church near the City of Liberty’s water tower. Two buildings will make up the law enforcement center – a new sheriff’s office and a Pct. 3 annex. The annex will house the Pct. 3 justice of the peace, Pct. 3 constable, Texas game warden, Texas Department of Public Safety (not including driver’s license office) and the Texas Ranger. The sheriff’s office and the Liberty County Office of Emergency Management will share a building.
Commissioners also authorized a contract with Raba Kistner Consultants, Inc., for geotechnical engineering services for the property. Construction of the buildings is expected to take up to 18 months once the bids are let.
The project is expected to cost roughly $22 million to $25 million, which will be funded through a certificate of obligation that was approved by the county on Tuesday. The interest rate for the CO is 1.889 percent, which County Judge Jay Knight is a testament to the county’s strong financial standing.
“That’s almost unheard of. We got that because we have an excellent bond rating and excellent accounting services. Plus the managerial side of the county is adept and conservative,” said Knight, adding that the County’s debt has been dramatically lowered since he took office.
Once the sheriff’s office moves into the new building, the current office on Beaumont Avenue next to the county jail will become a headquarters for jail management. The old emergency management offices inside the jail will become offices for the Pct. 1 justice of the peace and constable, both of whom are currently using offices inside the county annex on Cos Street.
The intention is to sell the Cos Street building once it is no longer needed by the county.
Liberty County commissioners also approved a letter of intent for a property tax abatement for Project Panda, an industrial development being planned for the Dayton area. The tax abatement approved by the County is in line with that being proposed by the Dayton Community Development Corporation and the City of Dayton.
For years 1-3, the abatement is 100 percent; for years 4-7, the rate is 75 percent; and for years 8-10, the rate drops to 60 percent. After the 10-year period, the abatement ends. Commissioners were willing to make the agreement based on the information that was presented to them in executive session by Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon, DCDC Director Ann Miller and representatives of the Project Panda.
Bound by a confidentiality agreement, Miller and Melancon could not offer specific details on the project other than to say that the project is located inside the Gulf Inland Industrial Park and will bring high quality jobs to the Dayton area.
“This is what we are all about, trying to bring good quality jobs to the area. This is right in line with what DCDC and the City have been working toward. We are pretty excited about it,” said Melancon.