The Police Department facility was built in 1963. But because it's used 24 hours a day every day of the year, it's the equivalent of being a 100-year-old building, said Police Chief Richard M. Tefank.
With about 94 police officers rubbing shoulders with 50 full-time civilians, 28 reserve officers, 15 part-time employees and about 75 volunteers, Tefank said quarters are so tight, they barely have enough locker space.
"We're basically out of room and unable to expand anymore," Tefank said. Two additions have been made in previous years, he said.
On March 6, 2001, property owners in the city will decide whether to tax themselves to fund a new, $15-million police facility.
The proposed building would be a part of the city's new civic center complex expected to be completed in the fall of 2002. The Police Department would be completed at a later date.
"To me, it's truly the best way for a community to assess themselves," Tefank said.
A two-thirds vote is needed for the tax to pass and Tefank, City Manager Greg Beaubien, Deputy City Manager Wes Morgan and Director of Finance Steve Dunn are working with consultants to identify the property assessment formula they will base the tax on--assuming it passes.
The special assessment would raise about $1 million a year, making it possible to finance a 30-year loan, Morgan said. Homeowners would be taxed about $35 per year and large business owners up to $3,200 per year.
The City Council has directed city officials to talk to focus groups about the tax, why a new police facility is necessary and what property and business owners can expect to pay.
Mayor Steve Berry said he's gotten some positive feedback so far from residents.
"I think the people in this community appreciate the value in policing, and I think you'll see that there will be a successful outcome," he said.
If the tax does not pass, city officials would need to figure out how to raise the money. Another option is for the funds to be taken out of the city's general fund.
Councilwoman Patsy Marshall, who considers herself fiscally conservative, supports the tax and says the amount that would be paid each year is considerably small.
"I'm a property owner, and nobody likes their taxes to go up, but we're building today for the future. It's something that we need to do now."
Ana Cholo-Tipton can be reached at (714) 966-5890.