City pursues loan to build police station

Published 11:22 pm Thursday, June 17, 2010

Contributing Editor

Washington is closer to building a new police station because the City Council voted to pursue a $3 million loan to help pay for the new estimated $4 million facility.
The 4-1 vote to seek the loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture came during the council’s meeting Monday. Voting for the measure were council members William Pitt, Ed Moultrie, Gil Davis and Bobby Roberson. Councilman Doug Mercer voted against it. Mayor Archie Jennings, who votes only in case of a tie, supported the action.
Previously, the council approved building the new police station on land it owns next to Warren Field Airport.
Mercer doesn’t dispute the need for a new police station, but he does not believe the city needs to spend $4 million on it. Mercer also criticized city staff, saying the staff’s recommendation “doesn’t follow the guidance that has been provided to staff.” He said staff members were told to limit the cost of the new police station to $3 million.
Mercer’s attempt to limit the amount of money to be borrowed to $2 million failed. Other council members said their approval of the $4 million project does not obligate the city to spend that much to build a new police station. The project has not been put out for bids, so the city does not know what the construction cost of the project will be.
The city has $1 million set aside in its public-safety capital reserve fund to help pay for the project. The city’s property-tax rate includes 2 cents per $100 valuation that’s earmarked to provide revenue for the city’s public-safety capital reserve fund, used to help pay for items such as new public-safety buildings and equipment. That earmark was set in place in 2002.
Specifically, the council authorized the mayor to sign documents to obligate funds and move forward with designing and building the new police station.
Tom Anglim, chief assistant district attorney for the 2nd Prosecutorial District, supports building a new police station. Anglim said the existing police station, built about 35 years ago, does not meet current equipment and spacing standards for police stations.
“I know how cramped those guys are,” he said.
Others who spoke in support of building a new police station included Mark Recko, executive director of the Washington Housing Authority, and Evelyn Roberson, chairwoman of the city’s Human Relations Council.
During recent months, the size of the proposed police station has been decreased from about 20,000 square feet to just under 15,000 square feet, as required by the council.
For more coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions of the Daily News.