Reserve fund for new police station continues steady growth

Published 5:25 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Washington’s Police and Fire Services conducted an open-house-type event Monday to show the public several designs for a new police station.

The Washington Police Department wants one of those designs, or perhaps another design, to become its new headquarters.

To help pay for that new facility, the city has set aside money each year in a public-safety capital reserve fund. At its retreat in February, the City Council, through consensus, decided to use a three-step plan for building a new police station — find a good site, design the facility and find the money to pay for the facility. Currently, the city has $1.24 million set aside for the new facility.

In his recommended budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1, City Manager Bobby Roberson suggested transferring $166,970 from the general fund to the public-safety capital reserve fund, the same amount transferred in the current budget. Roberson also suggested increasing the police station capital fund from $1,241,854 in the current fiscal year to $1,665,562 in the upcoming fiscal year, an increase of $423,708.

For several years, the city has been setting aside part of its general-fund revenues into a reserve fund to help pay for capital expenditures such as building a new police station. Of the city’s property-tax rate of 50 cents per $100 valuation, just under 2 cents of that rate is designated for the city’s public safety capital reserve.

For at least 15 years, city officials have wrestled with building a new police station, building a new fire station to replace the headquarters station on North Market Street or a facility that would house both services.

At the retreat, Mayor Mac Hodges said the city made a “fair” offer to the owner of the former Dr Pepper plant site on West Third Street, one of the three sites the city identified as a possible location for a new police station, but the owner came back with a counter-offer that’s too high.

That site, bounded by U.S. Highway 17 Business and West Second, West Third and Van Norden streets, once housed a Dr Pepper bottling plant and manufactured gas plant, which left coal-tar deposits — polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene and toluene —at the site. In 2007, Progress Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources worked together on a project to remove those deposits from the site.

In June 2016, the former Family Dollar site at the intersection of North Market and Third streets (where Tumble B Gym is located) and the city-owned land at the northeast corner of the intersection of East Fifth and North Bonner streets were identified as possible sites, too.

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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