This is the last in a series of articles about the local ballot questions. Today we will be learning more about the proposal to replace the current police station with a new facility, and also to build a fire training facility.
The explanation of the ballot question reads: “Section 142 of the Boulder City Charter directs a percentage of the proceeds from real estate transactions, such as solar energy leases, into the Capital Improvement Fund. Section 143 of the Boulder City Charter governs expenditures from Boulder City’s Capital Improvement Fund, and requires all expenditures to be approved by a simple majority of the votes cast by the registered voters of the City on a proposition placed before them in a general or special election. This ballot question seeks to allow up to Seven Million Dollars ($7,000,000.00) to be spent from the Capital Improvement Fund for improvements to public safety facilities including, without limitation, construction of a new police station and the construction of a training facility at the fire station. The measure would allow Boulder City to expend Boulder City public funds. This measure does not propose to add to, change or repeal existing law, and will not increase taxes or fees. A “YES” vote would allow the City to expend not more than Seven Million Dollars ($7,000,000.00) from the Capital Improvement Fund, if the funds are available, for improvements to public safety facilities including, without limitation, construction of a new police station and the construction of a training facility at the fire station. A “NO” vote would not allow the City to spend additional money from the Capital Improvement Fund other than what has been previously authorized by the voters.
Arguments in favor of the ballot question include:
“The passage of this ballot question would be immensely beneficial if the funds are investment in our police and fire departments. The potential training facility, of which currently there is none, for the fire department would provide the following benefits: 1. A training facility in city limits would allow required annual training to be conducted on the job, rather than paying thousands of dollars in overtime to send firefighters to be trained in Henderson. 2. A training facility in city limits would help to increase the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rating, which would potentially lower commercial and residential insurance rates. 3. A training facility would allow consistent experience and training with fighting fires, which increases safety for firefighters, the public and decreases loss of property. 4. As a smaller town with fewer fires, it is even more important that firefighters are consistently trained to maintain skills. 5. The training facility would be built adjacent to the existing fire station, on City owned land. 6. The training facility could also be used to train certain functions of the police department. The current police station is housed in a structure originally built in 1932. It is a structure that does not allow many of the vital functions of the police department to be carried out effectively. Specifically: 1. The concrete walls used to build in the 1930s make it very difficult to add the wiring and needed infrastructure for the technology needed in today’s police world, specifically with dispatch. 2. The power and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system frequently fail and, again, the concrete walls used make it difficult to provide fully functioning HVAC and power. 3. There is no secure parking for police vehicles. 4. The building does not facilitate the necessary functions for the police department including a place to interview victims, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, or enough locker room areas and facilities for the police department as a whole. 5. Due to the age, certain portions of the building do not follow current federal safety regulations and are unusable for police work. 6. The police department has increased in size and complexity and has outgrown the current facility. In sum, the Capital Improvement Fund is intended to improve Boulder City. If invested in the police station and fire training facility, the passage of this ballot question would certainly provide that improvement.”
The arguments against passage are summarized below:
“This question is intended to use Seven Million Dollars ($7,000,000.00) from the Capital Improvement Fund toward construction of a new police station and a training facility at the fire station. There are several issues with this ballot question, and residents should vote “NO”. As much as residents value and support our police force, the building they are currently occupying has been used for several years and crime rates are hardly impacted by the age, size, or use of that building. Significant renovations have been made in the past for the current building to be brought up to modern standards. Additionally, if the City constructs a new police station, there is no mention in this question of what will become of the prior building. The building would be vacant immediately after the police department vacated. Vacant buildings do not maintain the same value as those that are being utilized. The second portion of this question is a training facility for the fire department. The argument here is the same. The fire department and our firefighters are well trained individuals that are invaluable to our community. Again, these men and women are already trained, they have done extremely well in serving our community. They also receive ongoing training outside the city and this training has not diminished the ability of the department to fight fires. There has not been a significant change in firefighting, prevention, or risk based on a training facility located within city limits. The effectiveness of the police department and fire department is not reduced based on the building. Both departments have served our community well with the current buildings. There are many other potential projects that would be of greater benefit to the community that these funds could be used for. One large benefactor of this question would be the construction company and contractors that would build these buildings for a profit.”
It is well-known in the community that our public safety employees are very well-trained and ready to assistant residents with emergencies of all kinds. Training is a significant expenditure in the Fire Department budget. Having a fire training facility adjacent to the existing Fire Department would make training more convenient and eventually more cost-effective for the department.
As Fire Chief William Gray noted, “Currently, the City pays firefighters overtime to train in Henderson and North Las Vegas. By building a training facility in our city limits, training sessions could be conducted on the job, allowing fewer scheduling issues and giving our firefighters an opportunity to practice regularly.”
As far as the Police Department is concerned, the location was originally constructed in 1932 and has housed a number of city departments over the years. As technology has advanced and the city has grown, the number and types of services delivered by the Police Department has increased. It has been difficult to incorporate many upgrades due to the age of the building. There are some officer safety concerns that need to be addressed as well.
“The current police station on Arizona Street was originally built in 1932. Much has changed in law enforcement in 90 years, including dispatch, technology, security, inmate safety, the size of the staff and the need to comply with state and federal standards, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The current make-up of the structure – primarily concrete – makes it difficult to safely add infrastructure for the technology needed to function,” said Police Chief Timothy Shea.
We hope that this series has been helpful for you in deciding your upcoming vote on each of these three questions. In case you missed it, you can read more on Ballot Question #1 or Question #2 on our site.