By JOSEPH HAMRICK
Coming out of a 3-1 vote in favor of a proposed YMCA/events center, the Hunt County Commissioners Court will provide $50,000 a year for 10 years, on the condition that the bond for the $15 million YMCA is approved in the May 11 election, and after the county’s budgetary meetings have taken place.
Hunt County Judge John Horn gave his reasoning why he believed the county should support the project before the court on Tuesday.
“The importance of this project is the collective benefit not only with the city of Greenville, but the county as well,” he said, adding that he sees a potential for growth for the city and county if this were built. “This is within our means to look at an economic fund to help.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Jay Atkins was the dissenting vote.
According to Atkins, he likes the idea, but is wary of making a large financial commitment due to recent cut backs in spending.
“As much as I agree this has great long-term effects for the city of Greenville, I’m going to stand in opposition of this.” he said.
Hunt County Court-At-Law No. 1 Judge Andrew Bench gave a spirited speech of governmental entities working together toward the same goal.
“Sometimes, government has to plant the seed and let the private sector water it to let it grow,” he said, adding that 40 percent of the members of the YMCA come from outside Greenville. “The YMCA doesn’t just serve Greenville, but also Hunt County. I would also remind you that Greenville is in Hunt County.”
Bench listed other entities that have voiced support of the project, including Paris Junior College, the Greenville City Council and Greenville Independent School District.
With this cooperation, Bench said the project will spur growth in the long term.
“This is the kind of economic development no one entity can do,” he said. “It is the most impressive thing I’ve seen.”
After having a few of his questions answered by Dr. Jerry J. Ransom, Precinct 3 Commissioner Phillip A. Martin agreed to vote in favor.
According to Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Latham, although the county had to raise taxes by two cents last year to cover a pay increase for county employees, he believes the county will be able to afford this because of an increase in business growth.
“Our forecast in our revenues appear to be in a rosier state than last,” he said.