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Q&A: Police Chief on Issue 11

Income tax increase of 0.25 percent would pay to build new police station

Today Kent voters will decide whether or not to raise the city's income tax rate from 2 percent to 2.25 percent in order to build a new station for the Kent Police Department.

So I sat down with Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee last week to ask some of the questions that keep popping up about the proposed new building, the fate of the old building and why the city opted for an income tax instead of a property-based tax to pay for the new police station.

Before we get too far, here's a quick recap of Issue 11, the 0.25 percent income tax increase that would pay to build the new station:

  • Roughly $1.3 million generated each year by the tax increase would be used for property acquisition, design, construction, maintenance and repairs, future expansion or replacement of a new police building.
  • The total estimate for replacing the aging police station is $18.36 million, including property acquisition, construction and furnishing the new building.
  • The new building would be about 30,000 square feet — about 9,000 square feet larger than the existing station.

If you don't have time to listen to the three, roughly 10-minute podcasts of my interview with the chief, here are some of the highlights:

Kent Patch: Where would the new building stand?
Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee: The new building would stand on the block bordered by Day, South Water, South DePeyster and Summit streets, including the existing station's footprint. “That is the site we will look to acquire. That is the site we will look to get the best fitting design.”

Patch: Why, other than square footage, are there few details about the proposed new building available?
Lee: Site survey work and detailed architectural models can cost more than $10,000. "It would be unconscionable to spend that kind of money towards a project that hasn’t been voted on. Why spend $10,000, $15,000 on site work when the levy hasn’t been passed?”

Patch: If the city knows where the new building will stand, have their been talks with the property owners whose property would be bought for construction?
Lee: There are three property owners whose property would be needed to build the new facility. “We have not come to any agreements or consensus with any of the property owners.”

Patch: What would happen to the existing building?
Lee: “It will definitely be razed.” And Day Street would likely be closed to through traffic.

Patch: Could the state actually shut down the city's jail or other aspects of the building for not meeting code?
Lee: It's unlikely, but it could happen. "Anything's possible."

Attached to this article, along with the podcasts of my complete interview with the chief, you'll find some fact sheets the department released about Issue 11, architectural renderings of what the new station's exterior could look like, and a link to more than a dozen YouTube videos that provide a virtual tour of the existing building.

Ted M November 06, 2012 at 01:38 PM
You waited to election day to post this article?????? AWesome!
Teresa K. November 06, 2012 at 02:34 PM
@ted: lol.... voters have short memories. I think the city has been doing a pretty good campaign to try and get this passed. However, I never got the phone call for the survey, I never had anyone come to my door and discuss the proposed tax hike for the jail, nor did I feel the need to tour the place. If I want to see disrepair, why I can just look around my own place that I cant afford to update and spruce up. KPD are targeting who the best think will vote the tax hike in. No doubt we need a bigger better newer technology equipped jail. Just not this year and maybe not next. If this station was in such dire straits, we should have heard about it waaaayyy before now. Too coincidental with all the new construction going on. I wonder if the powers that be in Kent remember WHY people move here and prefer to stay here? It certainly wasnt for the big city feel of things. It was because it was a small, quaint, family feeling kind of place to live. As it is no longer going to be that way, I think I know what is going to happen here in the next decade or so.
Ted M November 06, 2012 at 08:22 PM
You can have a new police station. Just not on my dime. It will cost each person about 25 dollars a month On average. And for what.... What does a new police station Have to do with me. You're right cause criminals deserve to be locked up in a Holiday Inn instead of a jail. The city could have done more and securing other money for this. They say they tried, but it seems to me they didn't try very hard. Brimfield got a brand new Police station and they did it without increasing taxes so why can't we. Did the cops just get brand new police cars? Seems like money was spent without any priorities being right. So if the average person goes out and buy brand new cars knowing their house needs a new roof doesn't seem very bright or responsible at all. I'm just saying.,
Ted M November 06, 2012 at 08:27 PM
@ Teresa's.. lol you are so right. Brand new downtown .... you're so right... very well said. We are surrounded by such good police departments outside of Kent.
robert November 07, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Would't we all like to have an income for ever ! And there are several buildings available in Kent down town area ! OH but we must have a new station at the tax payer expense !What is wrong with this picture ??

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