Police center stalls

Published 2:17 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011

City withdrawing application seeking $1 million USDA loan

Washington is withdrawing an application seeking a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development branch to help pay for a new police center.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to not seek a $1 million loan after City Manager Josh Kay, noting that he had consulted with city staff, recommended the city withdraw its loan application.

Withdrawing the loan application effectively puts the police center project on indefinite hold.

Kay said he considers pursuit of a new police center a “worthwhile project” and the city staff should “continue to look into this and come back with a recommendation” on the fate of the proposed police center.

Council member William Pitt said when the city resumes the project, it does not have to start at the beginning. Pitt said work already completed in connection with the project should be used when the project resumes.

“We do have some design work we can always utilize and hopefully we will get a chance to do so,” Mayor Archie Jennings said.

Jennings also addressed the project’s fate.

“I think the important part of the message from the manager is their desire and the council’s encouragement to move forward, looking for creative solutions to address this pressing need,” Jennings said.

The council’s decision came after the city received a letter from Rural Development that outlines that branch’s concerns with the proposed project and delays associated with it. The letter was written after the council suspended the project and informed USDA the city was looking at accepting $1 million from the USDA instead of the $3 million that USDA had obligated to the project.

In June, the City Council suspended the project, in part, because of funding concerns.

In suspending the project, city officials agreed to seek additional funding for the project and look at alternatives that would allow the city to build the new police station. The mayor and council made it clear they were not abandoning the project, emphasizing it would be one of the new city manager’s top priorities when he began working for the city. Kay began working as the new city manager last week.

The total cost of the police station project — construction, site preparation, soil analysis, architectural/engineering fees, moving costs and other fees — comes to an estimated $4.3 million, according to figures provided to the council. The construction cost and site work cost combined come to $3.22 million.

At the council’s March 8 meeting, the council decided it wants the project cost closer to $3 million rather than $4.3 million.

The council is on record as supporting allocating $3 million for the new station, with $1 million in revenue coming from the city’s public-safety reserve fund, another $1 million borrowed from USDA and $1 million from other sources, including grants.

For additional coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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