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City Hall

City Hall

City discussing new police facility

June 4, 2013

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New dispatchers for police and fire operations may be on the way, and so too may be a site for a multimillion dollar police facility. And it all may require a tax increase.

First, though, it likely will create quite a bit of discussion this summer at Lawrence City Hall.

The first budget session of the year for the Lawrence City Commission took on a definite public safety theme Tuesday afternoon.

Newly elected Commissioner Jeremy Farmer said he was “embarrassed” by the condition of the police department’s current facilities and said figuring out how to pay for a new facility that could cost more than $20 million needs to be a high priority.

“Anything else that comes before us, we need to beat it off with a stick because this is where we need to spend our next big chunk of change,” Farmer said.

Commissioners at their Tuesday study session didn’t commit to spend the tens of millions of dollars to build a facility, but a majority of commissioners expressed interest in using the next year to identify and possibly purchase a site to house a new police facility.

That would be the largest step yet the commission has taken to build a facility that police department leaders say is badly needed to address space and efficiency challenges the department currently faces by having its major divisions spread out in downtown and West Lawrence facilities.

Last summer staff members estimated it would require anywhere from a 0.25 to 0.35 percent sales tax to fund a new $24 million police headquarters facility and additional staffing. City officials at other times have studied various property tax increase plans to fund the facility.

Newly elected City Commissioner Terry Riordan said he wanted city commissioners to start thinking about what it financially is willing to do to create a new facility.

“I don’t want to raise the mill levy, but one of the things I would raise the mill levy for is public safety,” Riordan said.

Before commissioners get to that discussion, though, they may have to first decide whether to raise property taxes to pay for additional dispatchers at the city and county’s 911 center.

City Manager David Corliss said he was planning to recommend a small property tax increase — probably about 0.1 mill — to pay the city’s share to add four dispatchers to the 911 center.

“The police chief and the fire chief have both told me they rate adding more dispatchers as their highest personnel priorities this year,” Corliss said. “We have added police officers recently, but we have not added dispatchers to keep up.”

A majority of commissioners said they were interested in considering the increase in dispatchers, but they also want to have a broader discussion about how the city and county fund jointly operated facilities, like the dispatch center.

Corliss said he would make his recommendation for increased city funding contingent upon the cities of Baldwin City and Eudora also agreeing to contribute to the dispatch center’s operations. Those two cities currently don’t pay directly for dispatch center operations.

But Corliss said he also wanted to have a larger discussion about consolidation opportunities for city and county functions, although he didn’t mention any specific services.

“In an area of reduced resources, one of the key areas of efficiencies is going to be consolidations,” Corliss said. “We are going to have to discuss that.”

Commissioners on Tuesday made no decisions on 2014 budget issues but rather were at the beginning stage of the process. City Manager Corliss is scheduled to provide his recommended budget by the end of June, and commissioners are set to approve a budget by early August.

Comments

somebodynew 1 year, 6 months ago

Consolidation. I wonder just what he has in mind there. That sounds like such a simple, workable solution to a lot of things, but in practicality it is difficult. And that is about the best case scenario. Depending on what he is thinking about, I have seen it work and I have also seen it dismantled after a time because it didn't work as dreamed.

LeBo 1 year, 6 months ago

Should have thought about this and sewer issue, before the rec center and maybe the library.

Joe Berns 1 year, 6 months ago

Maybe we could put the police facility inside the rec center? Kill two birds with one stone.

thebigspoon 1 year, 6 months ago

I wonder what he finds so "embarrassing" about the current facilities ? He probably should tell more before he decides to spend our tax dollars...

Eride 1 year, 6 months ago

The city could have built the recreation center on city-owned land for $12-15 million and would already have half of the required funds to build a new police station. Instead the city gave a several million dollar handout to the developer and we get to pay more in taxes... yay!

Jayhawker07 1 year, 6 months ago

This should be a very simple dialog. Hire Thomas Fritzel to do the work, it will come in half of what we paid the arch firm to estimate it. Win Win. Or we can go for the no bid deal with Thomas and be right on the arch estimate and then some. WTF!!!!! Oh, and don't think these jokers are going to leave 2.5 mil on the table on the rec deal. They will consume it all and not one penny more. Who in there right mind would do that? And there will be change orders for sure. Thanks Thomas for all your love for your city. You must only go out in public looking like the geico guy with money falling all over the place. I bet that is the way you present yourself with our council. They have no balls in their court.

sentinel4820 1 year, 6 months ago

I agree...since the cops have to buy their own service pistol, rifle, body armour, boots, and flashlights, they should have to buy their own police department too..(sarcasm, of course). Get real..Public Safety is a core city service. It is shameful that a city near 100k in population doesn't have their own police station.

Matthew Herbert 1 year, 6 months ago

Lets let Thomas Fritzel build the new cop shop. No-bid, of course

kansasredlegs 1 year, 6 months ago

Let the Spin Doctoring begin! Mr. Corliss, you and the Commissioners always defer to the police department when it comes to its needs, but how does your brain actually formulate the calculation that more officers equates to more calls for service therefore the requirement for more dispatchers? Could it be that the more dispatchers you shoe horn into the telecommunications center, you create the illusion that more space is needed to support the PD request for a new facility? PD facilities are adequate. The "Thomas Fritzel" in this boondoggle is the fact the the new facility calls for a Crime Lab which does equate to staffing it with very expensive personnel and equipment. Hopefully, Mr. Dever can put his financial background to use though I won't hold my breath as shown by his lack of disgust at the "no-bid" $3M over pricetag Fritzel placed on the taxpayers.

Mr. Farmer, you are new. It shows by your comment. Please educate yourself before making comments. Remember, it's better to look like a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. You're new, there's still hope for you. Listen more, talk less.

Mr. Riordan, you are new as well and your "public safety" banter simply means your clueless and have not studied this matter. All politicians play to fears when they have no argument for or against an issue fall back to the 'it's for your safety' and that's why I'm going to spend more of your money. Like, Farmer, study more, talk less.

The only good news out of this article is that ex-Mayor Schump had not one word to say. See, Jeremy, even Schump knows when to stay quiet. He'll lay low, let you and Riordan catch the arrows and slither out of one of his meetings with Fritzel above Buff Bob's to vote for another "no bid" contract for ole Fritz to build the darn thing.

LeBo 1 year, 6 months ago

Why the expense with illegal workers doing all the work?

waitjustaminute 1 year, 6 months ago

Note to negative posters. Educate yourselves. The need is there, the information is there. Buy a vowel, . . . . get off your couch, . . . . find out for yourself, . . . but then again, you're just too darn busy aren't you. And that's about all I have to say about this.

Food_for_Thought 1 year, 6 months ago

Not saying you are right or wrong, but your finger-pointing argument really has no credibility unless you take the time to explain what exactly Lawrence's "more pressing needs" are. Please enlighten us all.

kansasredlegs 1 year, 6 months ago

"The information is there" -- I guess I missed your link to it. Could you be referring to the LKPD-sponsored facility assessment which conveniently says it needs space? I do like your Gump closing which certainly sheds light on the knoweldge base for your comment.

LeBo 1 year, 6 months ago

Mr. Fritzel is a pillar of the community. Whom else is making investments in Lawrence?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

It's a done deal. The city is preparing for the higher crime rates as the city grows as has been documented for the past 25 years. Yes we have witnessed the more this community grows so goes the crime rate up up up. Crime is a high tax $$$$$$ budget item.

Ever notice how more law enforcement officers don't stop crime rates from increasing?

Increasing crime rates is the hidden cost of expansive city growth. There are consequence of helter skelter aimless spending, aimless growth and over saturation of the markets that usually goes unmentioned by the local media. City hall, elected officials and local profiteers are draining OUR pocketbooks,increasing crime rates and raising OUR taxes.

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