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A vacant lot that was once home to the Potter County Sheriff’s Office in downtown Amarillo has recently become a point of controversy in the Panhandle.

The lot was home to the sheriff’s office until the department moved from the downtown area in 2018. Shortly after the move, the Potter County Commissioners Court voted to spend $117,000 to landscape the lot. However, the lot’s landscaping has now been removed, and the lot has once again been vacated, as Potter County plans to build its new $54 million district court building at that location.

The decision to spend money on landscaping that would be removed in less than two years’ time has recently come under scrutiny. In an interview with KVII-TV, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner contended that Potter County did nothing wrong by authorizing the expenditure.

“Do you think this money would have been invested better in the long run in the future for other things?” KVII’s news anchor can be heard asking Tanner in the clip.

“No, no. This money was allocated for that project,” Tanner replies. “So, when we borrowed the money to do this, it was part of the plan. So, I wasn’t going to go, ‘Wait a minute, let’s don’t do that,’ and use that money for something else.”

Prior to the interview, Tanner was quoted by KVII as saying the expenditure sounded “like a total waste” and that it was not her idea. In the interview, Tanner was asked the same question, to which she replied that she did not remember voting for the project. Commissioners court records, however, show that she did vote in favor of the expenditure.

Construction on the new district court building is expected to begin in March.