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Llano approves final properties in JLK Event Center trade

John L. Kuykendall Event Center

The John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena is one step closer to becoming the property of Llano County after the Llano City Council voted on final trade options at a meeting Sept. 19. Current negotiations between the city and the county began in July when Mayor Kelli Tudyk proposed a trade of the event center for county-owned properties across the city. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The city of Llano voted Monday, Sept. 19, to trade the John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena to the county for Badu and Grenwelge parks, the Girl Scout Hut, about 3 acres of land off of Post Oak Road, and several lots surrounding the hospital parking lot. 

In exchange, Llano County will receive Ray House, 80 acres of land on which the event center sits, and a 3-year-old New Holland Tractor with a drag attachment.

The vote authorizes Llano Mayor Kelli Tudyk to engage city attorneys and move forward with the deal. The target date for completion is Jan. 1, 2023. 

The Llano County Commissioners Court must approve the trade at an upcoming meeting before an exchange can be made. 

“I think it’s a good deal for the county and the city,” Commissioner Jerry Don Moss told “I do agree with the proposed properties.” 

Moss has been negotiating the trade with the city on behalf of the county since Aug. 8. He said he needs more time to work with county attorneys before a final decision can be made. The matter will not be on the Commissioners Court’s agenda at its next meeting, which is Monday, Sept. 26. Moss expects it to be on the agenda for the following meeting on Oct. 10.

Tudyk appointed Llano aldermen Wayne DeCesaris and Larry Sawyer to negotiate the trade on behalf of the city. Valuations have not been established for the county properties, but the event center is expected to be about $4.5 million. The city sought the trade because of the strain the center has put on its budget.

“The whole reason we started this was because we had the JLK (Event Center), and we were continually seeing a loss and did not see a path to breaking even,” DeCesaris told

The city has been losing money operating the event center for the past several years and predicted a 2022 operations deficit of $133,000, he said. 

Neither side wants to see the center sold to a private entity. Both also agree the county is better equipped to manage the center using hotel occupancy tax money.

“The goal was to remove the burden from the citizens but still allow them to benefit from it,” DeCesaris said.

The original proposed property list from a Sept. 6 council meeting included the Llano County Library building and the District Attorney’s Office, but both of those were later removed. The library was removed from the deal on Sept. 14 after vocal opposition from residents, who feared a trade would mean its permanent closure.