GLEN ROSE – The Somervell County Commissioners Court has granted the Expo Center a reprieve from the budgetary axe – at least temporarily.
Following an extensive executive session on Friday, July 22, Somervell County Judge Danny L. Chambers announced that Frank Abbott, Somervell County Expo Center public events director, had presented commissioners with some “drastic scenarios” and “drastic cuts” to help resolve their budgetary situation.
“Right now, this court is willing to stay on board and see what we can do over the next several months to keep it open,” Chambers said.
The judge declined to elaborate much, citing the confidentiality of the executive session, which lasted over two hours.
After the meeting adjourned, Judge Chambers explained to the Glen Rose Reporter that the previous Expo Center shutdown dates of Sept. 30 or Dec. 31 canceled. Commissioners will instead analyze the situation six, nine and 12 months in the future to make a decision then if they are to continue.
“We are going to review the situation and see how we’re doing – see if this works,” Judge Chambers said. “We are willing to give it a try because we don’t want to close it down. But it has to be seen if it’s going to work.”
Until the county judge’s announcement at the meeting, the continued survival of the Somerville County Expo Center seemed to be very much up in the air.
Commissioners had only recently tabled a motion to close the Expo Center. A July 18 joint meeting between the commission and the Glen Rose City Council resulted in many frustrations being aired by residents and officials. Residents who packed the commissioners court chambers to overflowing for that meeting, which has no actual actual decision or resolution.
This financial crisis stems from Somervell County’s ongoing litigative efforts to recover tax revenue rom Luminant Generation Company, LLC. The lack of funds has forced commissioners to consider trimming their upcoming fiscal year budget.
The approximately 680,000-square-foot expo center at 202 Bo Gibbs Blvd. is located on 8.720 acres of land and valued at $19,187,710.
Glen Rose Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Ramsay, who attended the commissioner meeting, applauded their decision.
Mayor Pro Tem Ramsay said she is glad the county is exploring options other than doing away with the expo center.
“The city has its own enterprise business that we need to take care of,” Ramsay said. “My personal opinion is if we took on the expo center, we would have to raise taxes, I don’t believe taxes should be raised to fund a center owned by a governing entity or entities.”
Tax money that Luminant Generation Company, LLC, owes the county remains its big problem, the county judge said.
“If they pay their taxes, all our other problems go away,” Chambers said. “They are in the appeals process in Waco right now. It could easily be 2018 before they pay us our taxes for 2015.”
However, the country judge said he hopes Luminant and Somervell County can resolve this situation.
“Anything could happen,” Chambers said. “This really doesn’t have to drag out 18 to 24 months.”
Finding an amicable resolution to this issue will dissolve a lot of local tension and division regarding the situation, Mayor Pro Tem Ramsay said.
“This is a great thing for the community,” she said. “It gives them (the commissioners court) up to a year to see what the future holds.”