BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
KAYSVILLE – While city leaders insist there are no plans to fund a new police station here, a few residents say that a recent expenditure proves otherwise.
A Government Records Access and Management Act request by Margaret Brough detailed a $5,150 payment to JRCA Architects, Inc., for a review of police station plans. The payment was approved July 2.
The review was done, according to Mayor Steve Hiatt, to spend impact fee money that would otherwise be lost.
The city’s new police chief, Sol Oberg, suggested revisions to the existing plans, which were then reviewed by the architectural firm.
“When I came in as a new chief I tried to evaluate all of our programs and glaringly, all of our biggest issues came from the lack of a professional police station,” said Oberg.
The current station, he said, is a mess.
“There are so many more things that we should be doing as a department but I don’t have anywhere to put anybody or any equipment. We’re limited. We’re using several outbuildings already throughout the city.”
There is no timeline in place for a new police facility, said Hiatt, though the need exists.
“Anyone who walks through and tours the building can see very clearly there is a desperate and critical need,” he said.
Voters rejected a bond measure to fund the project two years ago.
City resident Orwin Draney says the city council was planning to use money from the electric enterprise fund, or money from the sale of property on Flint Street, to finance a station.
“Having been to five different city council meetings and asking about the expenditure of the money from the power fund on the police station and having been repeatedly told that they were not discussing the police station ... and then to turn around and see that they had approved an expenditure. ... If they’re not thinking about it, not talking about it, why are they spending money on it? That’s my question,” he said.
The city is not planning to use money from the electric fund or the Flint Street property for a police station, said Hiatt.
“Our answer was no, very clearly no,” he said of the city council’s response to the funding allegations, adding, “There’s no reason to say that (a police station) will not eventually be built.”
Impact fees are collected from new developments, according to Dean Storey, city finance director, and must be used for the capital facility plan within six years. If not, the city must return to the developer or the homeowner who made the contribution.
“It was kind of an innocent gesture and what they thought was common-sense use of public funds,” said Hiatt. “We will continue to be transparent as we revisit the issue. There is no drama here. It was an honest intent to revisit and to tweak the plan so that we’re better prepared and don’t waste taxpayer money.”
Draney suggested utilizing the city library, which will eventually be replaced by a new one near Heritage Park.
“I have no objection to them doing something with a police station,” he said, “my question is, why a $4.5 million building?”
He suggested keeping secure files in the existing building and setting up office space in the vacated library.
“Early on in our planning for the police station we reviewed that and determined seismically it’s not a good fit for public safety,” said Storey.
“It was cost prohibitive,” said Hiatt.
“The library is a very old building and a public safety building should be able to withstand earthquakes and natural disasters so that the city can maintain its public safety,” said Oberg. “I don’t really think it’s going to be any cheaper than building a new building.”