It is no mistake that Gila County voters have received two election brochures in the mail in recent weeks.
One is about issuing up to $20 million in bonds to build the new county court facilities. The other is on creating a half-cent tax to build new jail facilities and maintain them.
Voters need to read both brochures carefully. The issues are explained, costs outlined and arguments both and for and against presented.
"We must build new court and jail facilities," said Tommie Martin, Gila County District One Supervisor.
The construction is essentially going to be mandated by the state and federal governments -- and at a much higher cost, she said.
The state requires counties to have a separate Superior Court for every 30,000 citizens and Gila County has nearly 60,000 already and the federal government mandates the amount of space required for inmate populations, Martin said. Gila County already has more people incarcerated than it has space for, she added.
The county is eventually going to have to build new facilities for both the courts and jails -- if it doesn't, it could wind up in court and be forced to do so, at an even greater cost to the taxpayers, Martin said.
If the voters reject both the bond issue and the sales tax proposal, the county will have to turn to primary property tax revenues in its general fund to accommodate the expansion of the courts and jail overpopulation.
Using that source of funding could mean cutting other services or raising the more expensive primary property taxes.
As for the two different brochures -- the two publications and the two mailings were another mandate by state law, Martin said.