Hays County Government Center Open for Business
For the last several months county courts and offices have been transitioning into Hays County’s new 232,209-square-foot government center, a $63.8 million project completed on schedule and under budget.
“As we are finalizing the budget on our new facility, we hope to see additional savings on the overall $63.8 million project cost,” said Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, who led the effort on this project. “This new government center, with consolidated offices that were once scattered throughout the San Marcos area, will allow the county to provide better and more efficient services to our residents and the public in a much safer and secure environment,” Ingalsbe added.
The Hays County Courthouse on the square in San Marcos is still home to the commissioners court meetings, county judge’s office, and the Precinct 1 commissioner’s office. The County Veteran Services Office, Historical Commission, satellite offices for Precinct 2, 3 and 4 commissioners, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission offices have moved in to join them.
The Hays County Government Center, planned as a one-stop-shop for most county services, will house 17 departments along with a security office staffed by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. These departments include adult probation, auditor/purchasing, constable Precinct 1, county clerk (courts and records divisions), county courts at law, compliance/collections, criminal district attorney’s office (all services, including criminal, civil and victim services), district clerk, district courts, elections/voter registration, grants administration, human resources, information technology, justice of the peace precinct-place 2, juvenile probation, tax office (property tax payments and vehicle registration), and county treasurer.
The tax office now has a drive-through for property tax and vehicle registration business. In addition, for the first time in more than a decade, all divisions of the district attorney’s office and county clerk’s office are co-located.
Hays County did not have to raise taxes to fund the new center, having set aside money in the budget for a number of years in preparation for the need for a new building, said Laureen Chernow, Hays County communications specialist. The county sold $67.3 million in certificates of obligation (COs) last year for the government center. The county received $71 million from the bond sale because bidders for the COs gave a premium totaling $3.7 million, including interest. The CO sale represents the most money the county has ever borrowed without voter approval.
Hays County is scheduled to pay about $120.4 million – $67.3 million in principal and about $53 million in interest – for the government center by the time the county pays off the note in 2035. Since the project began, Hays County has realized $1.5 million in subcontractor savings over original quotes.