Frustration over the slow progress towards a new police station was evident at Monday’s Homer City Council Meeting. Council members fretted over how the city would pay for either a $6 million or $9 million option.
Last month, a task force recommended building the station just north of the post office rather than expanding the current Public Safety or the HERC buildings. There are currently no designs for the new facility.
In order to offset the price tag, the council approved dissolving Homer’s roughly $2.3 million permanent fund to pay for planning and construction.
Council member Tom Stroozas felt earmarking funds for the police station was hasty and wanted to amend the motion to leave the fund intact.
“I just don’t want to see anything earmarked, so to speak, for construction of the police station, until such time that we get there,” Stroozas explained.
The move was voted down. Council member Shelly Erickson was also leery of how the funds would be used for the project.
“The only way I would want to see that used if it was actually on a hard asset like the boards, the nails, the concrete and not anymore into development,” Erickson said.
The ordinance was amended to only fund construction and prevent the money from being used in the design process.
The city has gone through two task forces and about two years of planning to build a new police station. Voters also opposed a $12 million bond proposal last year.
City Manager Katie Koester was interested in getting the project “shovel ready” for a Trump administration infrastructure initiative, but the timeline is too short to put the funding issue on the ballot this October. But, council member Catriona Reynolds felt the move would jumpstart the stagnant process.
“And I think we should lock this down, like council member Erickson said,” Reynolds explained. “So that when we’re actually ready to move forward on the police station, this would reduce the amount that we’re bonding our funding.”
The council unanimously approved the ordinance. Part of the funds will also pay off the Homer Public Library’s current bond, saving over $1 million in interest.