Lawrence city commissioners all agreed Tuesday that $30 million is a big price tag for a new police headquarters building.
But commissioners at their weekly meeting said they want to see an even bigger number.
At a study session to review a feasibility study for a new police headquarters building, commissioners directed staff members to create an estimate of how much public funding it would take to address building needs, staffing needs and equipment needs of the Lawrence Police Department.
“What overwhelms me is the amount of need there is here,” City Commissioner Mike Dever said. “How would we pay for additional staffing, operations and the construction costs? We need to get a real feel for the number we’re talking about and then float it out there.”
Ultimately, commissioners said the total dollar amount to fund police needs may be large enough that commissioners will want to put the issue to a public vote.
On Tuesday, commissioners received a report that estimated a new police headquarters building to meet the needs of at least the next 20 years would cost $30 million to build and equip.
But Police Chief Tarik Khatib told commissioners he believes staffing at the police force still needs to increase by about 30 positions in order for the department to meet the current expectations of the community.
Khatib also said the department has significant equipment needs, ranging from new in-car video systems to replacement of aging vehicles.
Commissioners expressed concern about moving forward only with the building project but not addressing the staffing or equipment issues.
City Manager David Corliss said his staff would prepare a report within the next six weeks on what costs to address to police needs. He said the report also would attempt to quantify how much the city may save by having the department located in one facility. Currently the department is split between a facility downtown and near the intersection of Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive.
The department conducted a two-month study and found department employees during the time period drove 2,000 miles back and forth between the downtown and west Lawrence facility, which are five miles apart.
Commissioners are expected to consider the police headquarters issue again as part of their 2013 budget process, which will conclude by August.