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Sunset Provision a Possibility for New Police Station

City administrators still reviewing options for addressing need to replace existing building

The need to replace Kent's aging police station hasn't gone away despite the defeat of Issue 11 in November.

Kent Safety Director William Lillich said city administrators are reviewing alternatives for replacing the building, which originally dates to 1924 and has experienced numerous structural and mechanical failures in recent years.

"Everything's up in the air at this point," Lillich said.

Issue 11 proposed a 0.25 percent income tax increase that would have repaid about $18.3 million worth of bonds issued to build a new police station. Kent voters denied the proposed tax increase with 5,490 votes cast against it and 4,486 votes for the increase — a 1,004 vote margin — according to final results from the Portage County Board of Elections.

One possible alternative for paying for a replacement police station could simply be to put the 0.25 percent income tax increase back on the ballot.

A second alternative would be to put the issue back on the ballot with the addition of some kind of sunset clause — a time limit for the income tax increase to eventually expire.

Lillich said that, in light of the city's finances, which have increasingly relied on reserve cash to balance the city budget, an income tax increase is the best means to pay for a new police station.

"I don’t know that we can stay in this building in perpetuity," he said. "City revenues keep getting tighter. We're to the point where there isn't much more to cut. We could cut more, but we won’t be able to provide the same level of services."

Whether or not a proposal to raise the income tax rate to pay for a new station goes back on the ballot depends on Kent City Council, whose members voted in August to put the issue on the November ballot.

Ward 2 Council Representative Garret Ferrara said he believes putting the issue back on the ballot with a time limit on the tax increase would improve its chances of passing.

He added that he wants city administrators to provide more concrete information about the proposed new station.

Ward 2 Council Representative Jack Amrhein said he voted for Issue 11 but is unsure how he feels about putting an income tax increase back on the ballot with a sunset provision.

"I think council needs to re-examine the issue," Amrhein said.

Ward 5 Council Representative Heidi Shaffer said she's open to a new idea and plans to listen to what other council members have to say when the issue comes back to the panel for discussion.

"We need a new police station," she said. "I am supportive of putting it on the ballot again, with or without a sunset clause."

TELL US: Would you support a tax increase with a sunset provision? Take our Patch Poll.

City administrators could possibly bring the issue back to council for talks, with a few options, as early as January 2013.

Lillich said part of that presentation to council and the community would include more detailed information from the city's architectural consultant on design and cost of the new building.

"We've got to keep (an income tax increase) on the table," he said. "One of the issues we heard during the campaign was 'Why don’t we get a bond issue?' That’s literally what we would do to get the money for the project. The drawback was we don’t have new revenue flow to pay that out of existing revenues. And that was the purpose of the levy ... to provide new revenue to pay off those bonds.

"We’re inclined to propose to the council less restrictions," Lillich said. "We think we need to talk about having some kind of an endpoint, whether that be in time or in paying off the debt."

Donald S December 12, 2012 at 05:42 AM
I will not support this. Former Kent PD workers have said they have needed a new building since the 60s. Why wait 50 years then start panicking all of a sudden? Why couldn't they set up some fund years ago and add to it over the years if they knew back then this was a serious issue? Our city officials are wasting our money as is and not giving us the full truth so why are we supposed to cater to their needs all of a sudden?
Chris (Kit) Myers December 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Interesting that some people who belong to the party that supposedly is all for the workingman and the poor seem to forget those less fortunate when it comes time to spend their money. Apparently in their zeal to get a new police station they are oblivious to the rising cost of apparently unimportant things such as groceries. Just because some people are pretty well off and live in nice houses does not mean that everyone shares that status.
1rob williams December 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I reecall opining that the firestation was the most beautiful public bldg ever built ib kent; moreover it was desparately needed. 40 per cent of those voting acknowledged the need for an adequate police station. Pls keep trying. There is a way to get it done. Even more desparately needed than the fs was. Rob williams
i love doughnuts December 12, 2012 at 01:46 PM
dear city of kent: my property taxes just increased due to reassessment (despite its value having dropped in the past several years) and combined with the 1.8 mill library levy i supported, i'm unwilling to give more. here's an idea - give us a grocery store and we'll give you a police station.
Steve R. December 12, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Please explain how the city can give us a grocery store? Due to the close proximity of 2 Acme's, and 1 Giant Eagle, I'm guessing that most grocery businesses would be reluctant to invest in Kent, but I could be wrong. If you are aware that a business such as Trader Joe's or Heinen's is seeking a location here, please let the city know.
Chris (Kit) Myers December 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Yeah, the assessed value on my rental on South Willow went from $130,000 to $169,000. I guess it's because Kent State bought nearby houses at more than private market value because some were in the path of their esplanade. Mine is not! I will fight it! I have been offered more than the private market value but I am but seventy-six and not ready to sell. My rental is my job, part of my retirement, and my legacy to my children. I do not want to raise rents. My student tenants bust their butts to get an education while the university spends millions on concrete. It just sucks... really sucks. Or am I crazy? Re grocery store: I am so glad we have Save-a-Lot at University Plaza. I don't know how people manage to feed their families at Acme and Giant Eagle prices.
- T. L. A. December 12, 2012 at 02:54 PM
If they needed the money that badly, why spend all the money in all new cruisers? Just like most average people, you have to budget wisely. Don't punish the community for the inability to do so.
i love doughnuts December 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
steve, towns can attract grocery stores in in the same way they attract other businesses - by offering financing assistance, tax credits and operating incentives. exactly the same way the city is enticing businesses to open and/or relocate to our newly developed downtown area. a comprehensive assessment including kent's population, demographics, access to local supermarkets etc. would probably reveal that a lot of money is being lost to surrounding communities for grocery services (stow). back in the 80's and early 90's, when kent's population was lower, there were multiple grocery stores in town (sparkles on depeyster, apples on s. water, giant eagle on east main, acme on east main) even though there was an acme/click and another grocery store in the stow/kent plaza. but by all means, steve, if trader joes or heinen's lets me know they are seeking a location here, i promise to let the city know...
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! December 12, 2012 at 03:14 PM
A grocer is much needed in Kent. A GOOD grocer. It strikes me as odd that we're in a college town with a very diverse population yet Acme, the local grocer, has a very limited selection. Not to mention how fun it is in the summer when produce is ripe and luscious to step into Acme and find nothing but old produce from other countries hundreds of thousands of miles away.
Dave Mail December 12, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I think that the city administration needs to be more open with the electorate than just, "We need a new facility." What options have they considered and what do they propose to do with the money if they get it? I know that there are problems with the old TOPS building, but many people thought that should be considered. If you are asking for money in perpetuity or even with a sunset clause, tell people what you are thinking and why. Local government is not the US Gov and should be more responsive to its constituents.
Jon Ridinger December 12, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Acme is simply the only store located in the Kent-Franklin JEDD. It is hardly the exclusive grocer for Kent by any means. Many shoppers use the two Walmarts nearby and the Stow Giant Eagle (and Stow Acme). Grocery stores operate at very thin profit margins, so they're going to carry what is selling. Attracting a grocery store would probably be more a matter of poaching one from Stow or Brimfield, not getting one to expand with an additional location. This area has quite a few. Companies really don't look at Kent as a single entity, but rather as part of the larger region. Kent's population has actually been pretty stable since the 1970 census. Last five census tabulations for Kent: 1970: 28,183 1980 26,164 1990 28,835 2000 27,906 2010 28,904 What's changed, however, is the population of places like Stow and Brimfield. Stow, for instance, had 19,847 people in 1970 and 34,837 in 2010. Brimfield now has over 10,000 residents. In the 1980s and 90s when we had Acme, Giant Eagle, and Apples, there were no Super Walmarts in Brimfield or Ravenna, and no Stow Giant Eagle. On top of that, external events like Tops shutting down all Ohio stores and Apples going out of business played a role in that. Kent also became rather toxic for business in the 80s (side effect of the mall controversy), so instead stores set up shop just outside the city limits (Brimfield and Stow) while still attracting Kent shoppers.
Jon Ridinger December 12, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I agree with your basic premise of staying within and working on a budget, but just FYI, the amount spent on the new cruisers (which was a routine fleet replacement and within the normal budget) wasn't even close to the amount needed to renovate the station or build a new one. The department budgeted $270,000 on 9 new cruisers. Renovation or a new building will be several million dollars. In other words, even without the new cruisers, the city really wouldn't be any closer to being able to pay for a new station.
Drew December 12, 2012 at 08:02 PM
The city could do a couple of things in order for me to vote for a new police station: 1. show us some plans - not just a drawing. Tell us what you plan to do. 2. you're telling me that you want to build a new police station with the money - but the .25% increase never ends - either have an ending date/goal, or clearly define what will be done with the money after the building is funded. I keep up with local news; it seemed like this issue came out of nowhere close to the cut-off date for ballot inclusion. It almost feels like the city threw this on the ballot just to test the waters, see if it could pass. The city needs to do a better job of explaining the details and promoting the project if they want the tax increase.
Steve R. December 12, 2012 at 08:13 PM
i love doughnuts, i realize the city can try to attract a grocery store through financing assistance, tax credits, etc., but that's a lot different than the city "giving" us a grocery store. Even with excessive tax credits, I still believe a good grocery business would be reluctant to invest in Kent, even though I would gladly support it. Those that live on the east side have a few minute drive to Acme in the township, or Wal Mart in Ravenna. Those on the south and west side shop at Save-A-Lot, Wal Mart in Brimfield, or Acme and Giant Eagle in Stow. And many in the north/Twin Lakes area shop at Giant Eagle in Streetsboro. Not supporting the police station because the city has not been able to entice a private grocery business to move to Kent is nonsensical.
i love doughnuts December 12, 2012 at 09:10 PM
lol steve, if you knew, why did you ask me to explain? perhaps my use of the word "give" was a poor choice, considering my audience. furthermore, not everybody owns a car and is able to access the stores you've listed - and taking a folding cart full of groceries onto a bus is hard work. i doubt many in town would disagree that a local grocery would benefit the community at large - it would be great if the kent natural foods co-op could grow to meet this need! as for my not voting for a new police station, re-read my initial post, there are other reasons. end of story.
GTLabajetta December 12, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Simply put, not enough good,hard info provided. Just, 1) give us .25% more of your income! , 2) $18,000,000 million for a new safety building ! Councilman Ferrara spoke volumes in the paragraphs above!
Teresa K. December 14, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Sunset provision is a 'no' for me. There will eventually be an increase/extension needed for "something". After looking at the inside pictures of the PD, I am not into forking over any money if that is how the new one might be cared for. Wires hanging down? Ceiling tiles hanging down? Those pictures outraged me to no end. They are 1/2 hour fixes. City needs to find a better marketing angle. Do we have any big vacant buildings that could be used?
I HATE THE KENT POLICE December 15, 2012 at 11:09 PM
i am very happy to see anything that makes life harder for the KPD.
Chris (Kit) Myers December 15, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Well Mr. Hater, in that case, if you, your mother, father, sister, or brother, are ever assaulted, mugged, shot, slashed, raped, or sodomized, don't call the police, just call another hater. You probably associate with some others. Most people that I know, or have known, who hate the police, have done something wrong to get their attention. These people continue to do wrong and end up in rehab, jail, or prison. Are you one of them? Get the chip off your shoulder. Get a life worth living. Matt, this may be strong language, but maybe it will make this person think. I doubt it. He/she probably just hates me now.

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