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Aransas County voters consider divisive bond proposals at polls

Posted at 8:30 PM, Oct 29, 2020

ROCKPORT, Texas — The temporary Aransas County Courthouse opened in a strip mall in January of 2018 five months after Hurricane Harvey destroyed the permanent building.

County leaders say they need new accommodations, because their new home has some glaring problems.

“The security in this courthouse is terrible," Aransas County Judge Burt Mills said. "Prisoners walk down the hall with everybody else. They use public restrooms. That’s not very cohesive for safety."

Plans are in the works for a new courthouse to be built across Live Oak Street from where the original building once stood.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and insurance payouts are providing some of the funding, but Proposition A on the November ballot would authorize raising an additional $17.235 million through the sale of bonds.

Some voters are all for it.

"I think we need to show that we’re not just a little bitty sleepy town," John Tompkins said. "And I think a new courthouse would go a long way down here and everything. That’s kind of why I agreed with it."

Not everyone is on board.

When the county considered approving the courthouse funding without voter consent, the Aransas County Voters Coalition formed. That group got enough signatures to force the issue onto the ballot.

They're urging Aransas County residents not to support the courthouse bond and Proposition C that would approve the sale of $1.37 million in bonds to help pay for a medical facility.

“What we’d like voters to do is vote 'no' on both of them," voters coalition member Jeff Hutt said. "Send it back to the county. Let us bring it back in May on another bond election, and give us more detail so we can know what we’re actually voting for."

Election results Tuesday will determine whether the county can proceed with the bond sales.

“I think the people of Aransas County understand the importance of everything," Mills said. "So it’s up to them what happens.”