TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Smith County Commissioners court voted Tuesday to approve putting the county courthouse bond proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Smith County voters will now be tasked with voting on the proposal which, if voted into effect, would begin construction on a new county courthouse and parking structure.

Members of the community spoke on the proposal before the vote, largely in favor of building a new courthouse.

“We’re thankful at Tyler ISD that the citizens saw fit to build new schools that would be safe and sound and protective of our children. I believe the county courthouse should be the same. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not excited about an increase in taxes, but I remember a phrase ‘no pain, no gain,'” said Dr. Orenthia Mason.

While no one said they were in favor of a rise in taxes, one woman said it was a necessary evil.

Daniel Noteware, an attorney based in Tyler, said 5 to 10% of the county’s weddings happen at the courthouse, and at the very least, those people deserved a better wedding venue.

Commissioner 3 Terry Lee Phillips who has the only opposing vote on the commission, said that in his opinion, now was not the time for the bond proposal due to growing inflation across the country.

Kashundra Hudson, a Tyler resident, agreed with Phillips.

“The citizens of Tyler with lower incomes are trying to provide and make it for themselves. (There’s) a lot of people sleeping on the streets that need the help with what they are spending to refurbish this building,” she said.

The proposed courthouse focuses on adding safety precautions the current structure cannot support, and the addition of a 300-car parking garage. The plan comes to the ballot after over 20 years of continuous assessment and planning.

“I think we need to let the citizens of Smith County make this decision for themselves. For 23 years we have been studying this problem,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “The problem is not going to go away. There is never going to be a perfect time to call a bond election like this.”

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