One artist's rendition of Thomas County's new courthouse will remain just a painting for now. By 21 votes, a special tax to finance the project was rejected at the polls.
Thomas Vann, Jr. of the Citizens Courthouse Committee says, "We were disappointed in both the turnout, which was less than 13 percent, and the vote itself. There were a number of people I talked to that just didn't get around to voting and I regret the citizens didn't have an opportunity to vote en masse."
Vann says this vote was a once in a generation opportunity for citizens to build a legacy for the future. So what's next? Thomas County's manager says he wants to find out why voters are against the project.
Mike Stephenson, County Manager, says, "We want the people to know that there's still a problem. We have to work. I think we want to take a few weeks and talk to them and see what they think, if they have any suggestions about how to solve this."
Vann adds, "I don't think we've eliminated building a new courthouse. We just need to regroup and look at the design, cost and size."
Though the particular drawing may not leave the easel, it's perhaps inspiration. Vann says the bigger picture is that with time a new courthouse will eventually become a reality.
One of the main questions officials want input on from voters is how to finance the project. Officials say they may have to look at other options like ad valorem taxes, which are taxes on personal property.