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.