Hearne residents will now vote on new public safety facility

HEARNE, Tex. (KBTX) - The Hearne City Council is now letting residents decide whether or not a new public safety building is the right choice. The council unanimously voted Tuesday night to hold a bond election in May instead of using certificate of obligation.

The City of Hearne says a new public safety building that would house the city government, police department, and fire would could cost over $8 million.

"We don't meet state regulations and we need to go ahead and build a building that helps them do their job and at the same time, meets state regulation," said Hearne City Manager, John Naron.

Naron says they got push back from citizens who wanted the chance to vote on it instead, worried what this would cost.

"We've taken a look at the long-term finances and we've taken a look at what we have coming in and we feel we can certainly pay for the building and keep prices the same for citizens," Naron said.

Naron says the Robertson County Emergency Services District agreed to help.

“The mayor and I went to the ESD board and asked if they would help us with this project and they said absolutely. We've received a lot of support from them," Naron said.

However, ESD president Robert Yezak says that's not entirely true.

"When they came to us, they were asking for a commitment of somewhere between $70-100,000 a year over the next 25 or 30 years to help them pay for that building. That raised a lot of questions among the board, and those questions haven't really been answered yet," Yezak said.

Yezak says the ESD hasn’t taken any action on this proposal. The ESD contracts with local volunteer fire departments, but doesn't have a contract with the city at all.

"The board was very receptive to that presentation and committed, as we have to all the volunteer fire departments, that we intend to fund them at a level commiserate with our ability to raise tax money to fund them," Yezak said.

The city manager says taxes for residents will not be raised to help fund the new building. Citizens can vote on the proposed public safety building at the bond election in May.