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Voters Will Be Asked To Ante Up For New Police Station

Council to place 0.25 percent income tax hike request on November ballot.

is moving forward with plans to place a citywide income tax increase for a new police facility on the Nov. 6 ballot, but at a reduced rate of 0.25 percent .

Councilman Wayne Wilson said Wednesday the percentage reduction is the lowest the city can possibly go and still achieve its goal of constructing a “long-overdue building” for the Kent Police Department.

The proposed hike would permanently raise the city income tax rate from 2 percent to 2.25 percent.

Council also modified its ordinance verbiage to indicate that funds generated by the measure – about $1.3 million annually – would be used for property acquisition, design, construction, maintenance and repairs, future expansion or replacement of a new police facility.

The wording change was suggested by council member Tracy Wallach, who believes city voters would be more inclined to approve the issue if funds were earmarked for a specific purpose.

The ballot issue also will include provisions stating police salary expenses would not be paid from the fund and that any excess money, after paying debts, would be placed into a contingency or reserve fund for future police facility expenses. That fund would be capped at $1 million and anything over that would be transferred to the streets and sidewalks fund.

The ordinance had its first reading Wednesday, but needs to be fast-tracked from this point on. Clerk of Council Linda Jordan pointed out the measure would need final approval during a special Aug. 1 council session to meet the Porage County Board of Elections' Aug. 8 filing deadline for November ballot issues.

Councilman Garret Ferrara – who said he recognizes the need for and supports a new police facility – voted against placing the ordinance on first reading because he thinks the city should be better prepared to present the issue "in a cohesive manner" to the voting public.

Ferrara said the ballot issue is “doomed to fail at the polls” if city officials don’t have details to share with voters regarding the police department’s specific needs, land and building costs and long-term operating expenses.

Councilman John Kuhar voted against the ordinance because it does not include a sunset provision.

The total estimate for replacing the aging police station is $18.36 million. That includes the cost of debt issuance, razing the existing police station, site preparation, furniture, fixtures and equipment, Budget and Finance Director Dave Coffee .

The city would use $1.2 million to pay the annual debt service on the new station, leaving only $100,000 in reserve each year to cover potential cost overruns and operating costs.

City administrators have been making the case for a new police and safety building for several years. The existing building was constructed in the 1920s.

One of the more serious issues is the city jail. The jail has not met state standards for several years, but state inspectors have so far given it a pass.

The building doesn't meet Ohio jail standards or the Americans with Disabilities Act, Police Chief Michelle Lee told the Record-Courier. The jail barely even meets city plumbing and electric codes.

"Deplorable" is how Mayor Jerry Fiala has described the police station. Wilson said the building's interior condition is embarrassing and poses potential safety hazards.

"We’ve had discussions about the police department and the building being in the condition it’s in, which is literally embarrassing it’s in such bad shape," Wilson said. "Luckily we haven’t had the state come down on us for it."

In 2010, a portion of the ceiling collapsed in the administrative offices during off-hours. The city has repaired the building brick facade, its multiple heating and air conditioning units — due to numerous additions over the years — wiring and other problems at great cost, Wilson said.

Chris (Kit) Myers July 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Buy the vacant funeral home for less than a million and remodel it. Lots of parking. Right up the street from the new courthouse.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! July 19, 2012 at 11:27 AM
I notice every time I'm at the Crain Avenue Bridge that at minimum, 2 people turn left onto the bridge despite all the signs. And many were actually holding up traffic to make the illegal turn. How much money could the city bring in if there were always a police officer or two there writing tickets for all those turning illegally?
Paxton Crenshaw July 19, 2012 at 12:12 PM
wait a minute - council and ksu will throw money towards the wells-sherman house, but the police station in the photo above is deemed "deplorable" and "embarrassing"? what's embarrassing are the expectations and actions of this council. if you want a shiny new police station then wait a few years for all of the new income to roll in and buy it yourself. Better still - have ron burbick build an "acorn police station" - or ask ksu or ask the great developers who you've permitted to destroy our neighborhoods (in the name of growth and income) with their giant apartment complexes. just don't hit up me for this one.
Logan July 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Since City Council seems to apt to really want to protect older historic buildings in Kent, and continually spend money on this, instead of obtaining a very large loan to build a new Police Station, you may as well deem this one historical, and simply renovate it. Especially because I don't see why anyone in Kent would EVER vote yes on an increase income tax for a new building, when we havn't seen any plans of a new building, where it would be located, and what would be done to the old building? It is absolutely absurd!
Teresa K. July 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM
So Kent wants to gather up the money first and THEN show plans of what it is intended for? Like the circus that is going on with the new courthouse? They decided to build it, bought out Jimmy John's, got some land and they don't quite have a building plan in place? Make no mistake: we love our Kent cops and yes, they deserve the best. But right now, aint the best time to be asking for money. In the event Kent does build a new station, please hire the ones who built the current one. If it was built in 1920 and only recently showing signs of wear.... the builders did a great job! @Paxton, Chris and Logan: great points about the historic buildings : )
AJ Catalano July 19, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Though I would like to see the details of the new station before the issue hits the ballots, I would gladly pay a tax increase to support a new police station. The KPD does a fantastic job and an upgrade to their facilities is long overdue.
Laurel Myers Hurst July 19, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Use income tax from this current "bubble" to do the research, planning and design for a new police station. Then come to the voters with a real plan...Save all you can in the mean time and figure any tax proposed will have to have a sunset clause to be approved. The Council can't really declare this an "emergency" and dispense with the three readings just to get the issue on the Nov. ballot. What's the emergency? If the city is ashamed of the appearance of the current building now that shiny new ones are going up opposite, that's great motivation for getting their ducks in a row quickly. Sorry Council, if you miss the presidential election cycle in which college voters (many non-tax paying) will likely vote for what they see as a pro-police issue. I agree that our first responders deserve adequate/excellent) facilities. I wish there were time to install a traffic ticket camera @ the left onto Fairchild Bridge...ha ha! What are the enforcement liabilities the city faces if the jail doesn't meet code, and when are enforcement measures set to take effect?
mike who July 19, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Bunch of negative Nancy's. It's called growth. The city has the money, that's why they tax the hell outta KSU and its students
Paxton Crenshaw July 19, 2012 at 03:12 PM
that's funny, because i think the exact opposite - there are a handful of us on here who know how things should be done. sorry to not include you in that group, ckc.
Chris (Kit) Myers July 19, 2012 at 03:17 PM
No need to rush it onto the ballot in November. Let's have some idea what it is before spending 19 million bucks. If one is built, PLEASE don't let it look like a CVS Pharmacy as did the preliminary new court house plan. Concerned Kent Citizen: Do you know anyone who lives in Ravenna? I know people there who love it.
Devlin Charlton-Dennis July 19, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Matt Fredmonsky, why do you continuously allow this internet to troll hurl abuse at your serious readers? The comment area should be a place for debate, not bullying. Concerned Kent Citizen cowers behind his mask of anonymity attempting to bolster his low self-esteem by harassing your readers. Matt Fredmonsky, block this troll.
Paxton Crenshaw July 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM
powerful enough that i think i know your real identity.
Devlin Charlton-Dennis July 19, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Which is the modus operandi of internet trolls. Your juvenile attempt to belittle and intimidate the adults who try to engage in intelligent debate is the sign of someone in need of help. This forum is not your therapist, I'm sure all the people who you abuse on this forum on a daily basis would gladly support you if you sought professional help to tackle your clearly immense low self-esteem issue. Matt Fredmonsky, block this troll.
Patrick Henry July 19, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Here we go again. Didn't another "emergency income tax issue" just happen a few years back with the proposal to decrease the reciprocity for those who live in Kent and work elsewhere? That was doomed to failure and led to a lot of blowback. Again, Council rushes ahead to try and get this in before the filing deadline, following the emergency 3 readings, with NO details in place for the folks that will be footing the bill. How can this be an emergency if the condition of the PD/jail is "deplorable", "embarassing", has "safety hazards", "hasn't met State standards for years", etc.. These issues had to have been on-going for a while. So my question is - if this was such a great need (and I am not saying it isn't), why were so many other items prioritized ahead of this by Council (ex. over paying for property, sole focus on downtown, thousands towards an unneeded electronic sign, etc. etc.). I agree with Mr. Ferrara that this is doomed to failure at the polls if there are no details. I also read in the RC that there is no sunset provision. Council will have no one to blame but themselves for lack of foresight; and for forgetting recent past history when this is defeated.
Laurel Myers Hurst July 19, 2012 at 04:21 PM
But elimination of reciprocity did pass, didn't it? That wasn't a failure for Council from a revenue standpoint. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Patrick Henry July 19, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Correct, the decrease in reciprocity did not pass. I was using it as a recent example of Council rushing ahead without having any details and well laid plans in place; using the emergency mechanism of 3 readings (especially in summer when folks tend to be in and out more), no voter outreach, no thought as to potential ramifications, etc.. The example has nothing to do with the revenue aspect itself, it has to do with how Council approaches sensitive issues with the local taxpayer.
don schnee July 19, 2012 at 05:47 PM
the last bldg. renovation was supposed to be good for 2 more years. the bldg. itself could use some paint on the facade, but otherwise looks okay to me. condemn the jail portion and house the few prisoners they take in elsewhere. maybe at the new justice center? or how about another option for the old tops bldg.? put the prisoners in the cooler
William B Budner ESQ. July 19, 2012 at 06:06 PM
move to tops.
Chris (Kit) Myers July 19, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Tops is nothing more than the thrown-up shell of a supermarket, not built for the duration, and perhaps financially unviable to convert to a police facility. The funeral home is a well-built, solid building of 6000 square feet and a basement. It also has parking. I think it should be considered.
Logan July 19, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Has anyone thought that maybe, since we are getting a new Courthouse, to build a joint facility of PD and Courthouse? This would decrease cost of transporting prisoners to cases, and possibly be cheaper as it would be one building instead of two? The city needs to unite to think of cost effectiveness. If citizens are asking the Federal and State Government about this, then why are we not addressing this with the City Government? A united building would make it cheaper, and to me would make more sense to combine than go into a large amount of debt over 2 buildings. Since neither buildings have been approved, maybe a joint plan could be thought of? Had I been on Council, this would have been my first thought when two government departments that relate to each other are planning new buildings...
debbie bartels July 19, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Where do you suppose they put the police station if they build it next to the courthouse? I do not see enough room on that land for parking and 2 buildings. I know I will vote yes for them to build a new station. I for one am proud of our police and think they deserve the best. Those of you that are not impressed with the issues, why don't you go to the next council meeting instead of just griping on a website.
Chris (Kit) Myers July 19, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Yes, a justice center. But that makes too much sense. Why is it that suddenly, right before the November election, we find we need a new police station/jail? Don't give government at any level any money without concrete plans. You can always be sure that they will find ways to spend it... all of it. When I was on council in the early eighties an addition to the income tax was passed. One of the members, who went on to a higher government position, said that now that it was passed we have to figure out how to spend it. I swear on my mother's grave that what I just said is a true statement.
Logan July 19, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Debbie - I have been to the Council Meetings and have plead my case. And as for my comment about joining the buildings, never once did I say it should be on that lot. I do not agree that building a Courthouse on that property is a good decision at all! I do agree with you that we should give the best to our police, however giving the best and doing it by means we can afford are two very different things...
Jeff Mittiga July 20, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I feel that local income tax rates should be uniform within Ohio and should never exceed 2 percent. 2 percent has been the tradition for many years and has worked well. Due to the current tax burden to support County, State, and Federal government ..... I would be very surprised if voters would support this local tax increase.
Logan July 20, 2012 at 03:02 PM
I found this website that gives a basic overview of building a new police station that is 11,000 sqft. Granted these numbers were in 2008 when the economy was a tad better, so I feel like labor could be less now. Here is the site: http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/rsmeans/models/police/ Why on earth would we have to spend 18 million dollars on a new building? My question is, does anyone know how much Brimfield spent on theirs? Mind you...they renovated and added on to an existing building for theirs...why cant we?
don schnee July 21, 2012 at 08:59 PM
i was trying to make a joke. colonel klink would have gotten it.
Laurel Myers Hurst July 22, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Having never been in that funeral home, its difficult for me to imagine what business would thrive there. It's a difficult transition, funeral home to anything else, but a jail or justice center seems promising. No joke.
mk July 25, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Question to you and your working conditions; does the roof leak? ceiling fall in on you? do you have people working 24/7? do you have bugs, mice and rats? does the basement flood? has the building been remodeled so many times you freeze in the winter and perspire in the summer because the heating and cooling system does not work? This "building" was build in the 1920's for the fire department and has been added onto and added onto. It is time for a new building.
Teresa K. July 25, 2012 at 01:14 PM
@mk: the police station must hide it well from the public. If the roof leaks and the ceiling is falling in on you/ or anyone else, are there accident reports and hospital visits? if there are mice and rats are there exterminator bills? are the critters being allowed to simply reproduce? If the building has been remodeled that many times and still has these problems, I think they need new remodelers for sure. No one is saying the police don't deserve a new building. We are merely saying now is not the time. Give the economy some more time to recover.
James Thomas July 26, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Will there be any way for people who work in Kent but don't live there to be credited with the extra .25% tax? To my knowledge my city only credits 2% in tax reciprocity. Couldn't it be considered a form of theft to take money in this manner? Would it not be "Taxation Without Representation"?

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