Stan Chambers ra

Chambers

McLennan County commissioners Tuesday approved designating more than $22,600 to address one of a long list of Americans With Disabilities Act violations.

County Auditor Stan Chambers said $22,635 was needed out of the contingency fund to be moved into the capital outlay fund to pay for 15 assistive listening devices for county courtrooms.

The county needs the listening devices as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, County Administrator Dustin Chapman said.

The settlement, which was approved this month, lists more than 350 county ADA violations with compliance deadlines ranging between three months and three years.

The agreement came after the Department of Justice surveyed county property in 2011. The Department of Justice presented its report in 2014 to county leaders, who have since negotiated the final settlement.

Commissioner Kelly Snell said the fixes could cost $1 million to $2 million.

County Judge Scott Felton countered that it’s too soon to throw out figures for how much repairing all the violations will cost when a study of those repairs hasn’t been done.

But officials agree the bill will be hefty.

The big-ticket items for repairs are to the McLennan County Courthouse and the Extraco Events Center fairgrounds, Snell said.

Fairgrounds upgrades

Waco attorney Mike Dixon, who represents McLennan County and its officeholders, said he couldn’t begin to guess how much improvements to the fairgrounds would cost.

“That’s going to be substantial,” Dixon said. “Most of the bathroom changes are not going to be terribly significant, but the sheer number of them is where the expense comes in.”

Dixon said the cost to bring the outside bathrooms on the fairgrounds up to code is expensive enough that it might be cheaper to bulldoze the buildings or turn them into storage.

One of the bigger issues, he said, is the need to add accessible seating inside the arena. The county will likely have to take a sledgehammer to concrete to add seats, he said.

The 145-page agreement details violations at more than 20 buildings, including justice of the peace offices, the Extraco Events Center, the Jack Harwell Detention Center and the sheriff’s office, among others.

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