Archive for Tuesday, April 26, 2011

City moves toward new site

Tonganoxie Police Department

Tonganoxie Police Department

April 26, 2011

The Tonganoxie City Council has instructed city staff to negotiate the purchase of a building in the Urban Hess Industrial Park for use as a police station and the city’s second fire station.

The decision came after Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau reported to the council for the first time in open session the results of his investigation into a possible new home for his department. Four months ago, the council approved the chief’s request to look for buildings in the city that could be remodeled to serve as a home to his department.

The police department has outgrown its current home on the corner of Fourth and Delaware streets. The building also has security issues.

The proposed site of the two public safety stations is the former Right Choice building at 1701 Commerce Street, which the First State Bank and Trust owns because of the bankruptcy of the company.

Brandau said the bank’s asking price for the 10,800-square-foot building was $629,000, which might be negotiable. The police chief also presented the council with estimated renovation costs, which were developed after the council had a February executive session on the property. The city’s engineering consulting firm, BG Consultants, Inc., pegged the remodeling costs at $269,731 for the police station and $363,497 for the fire station.

However, the fire department has $200,000 in bond money that was to be used to add three bunkrooms, two bathrooms and increased work bay space at the Fourth Street station. That project was put on hold in October 2010 when bids for the work came in higher than the $200,000 available.

Fire Chief Dave Bennett said a fire station north of U.S. Highway 24-40 was in the city’s capital improvement plan scheduled for 2016 at a cost of $1.3 million, or $900,000 more than the remodeling of the vacant building for the fire department’s needs would cost.

Response time to the southwest part of the city would increase for equipment stored at the new station, Bennett said. On the other hand, it would improve response times to other areas of the city, particularly Jackson Heights.

He predicted the dispersal of equipment would improve the city’s ISO rating, which is used to set homeowners’ insurance rates.

Also on the capital improvement plan is a new City Hall/police headquarters complex with an estimated price tag of $3 million. Taking construction of a new police station out of that equation would greatly lower that cost, Bennett said.

Brandau presented the council with a letter from First State Bank and Trust offering to finance the building’s purchase and renovation. The bank offered to charge interest on the loan only in its first three years, at $21,580 the first year.

That arrangement would allow the city to retire an existing bonded debt obligation, which would in turn allow the city to start making payments for the purchase of the building and its remodeling with no addition to the current mill levy.

Council members were supportive overall of exploring the proposal further. Mayor Jason Ward said the council has continued to put both new stations in the capital improvement plan, knowing they would be needed with the city’s growth. It appeared to be an expensive but smart investment in the city’s future, he said.

Although he agreed with Ward that public safety was city government’s priority, Councilman Bill Peak did caution that the proposal should be considered in the context of the city’s existing debt, its $3.9 million debt ceiling and other coming needs. Those could include the expensive extension of 14th Street should a school bond eventually pass, he said.

“I think it’s a fine thing,” he said. “My message is not on them (the two chiefs) but on use. We have to have a consideration of other things coming.”

With that in mind, the council voted 4-0 (Councilman Chris Donnelly was absent) to instruct city staff to negotiate a purchase price for the building and its financing to bring back to the council.

Comments

straightup 2 years, 11 months ago

1.3 million The bobble heads are bobbling spend, spend, spend! Our City Council with our tax money: If hogs think there is any feed left in the trough, they will squeal loudly when you try to move them BACK!

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Michael Vestal 2 years, 11 months ago

Now Wait a Minute Straightup; This is For Chief Brandau. You know, the one you were Praising on another Post for saving money.

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straightup 2 years, 11 months ago

Saving and spending are two different things. I was praising Chief Brandau for saving. The city council are the leaders of this community. The word NO does not seem to be in thier vocabulary. I'm with Old-vet on this..... there was a theme at election by the mayor and council on saving and paying down our dept. So I will say again To the City Leaders Stop being bobble heads and pay down the debt before adding more.

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Old_Vet 2 years, 11 months ago

I'm throwing my hands up. I give up. I'm thinking of moving to south Texas where I can enjoy my retirement years in better weather, no state income taxes and better leadership. This town is being run by amateurs and the sheople are without a sheppard. The city, the county and the school district have got to start talking to each other.

This past election there was a certain theme struck by the mayor and the city council members. They felt that they needed more resources. Once again, more resources have come to Tonganoxie at the expense of the school district and property owners.

I didn't read where we get to vot on this "capital improvement" plan. And the statement that the mil levy would not increase with the retirement of another bond is not fully true. The cost will be spread out across years keeping our debt crisis real for another 10 years.

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William Peak 2 years, 11 months ago

To clarify this article. I never mentioned 14th street. I did ask where the million dollars was coming from and how it would be layered on the budget. There is a bond thats is paid off in 2014 but I am unsure if thaqt will fully equal this expense. The motion was to look ahead and explore option but final approval is with council. Thanks.

Bill peak

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12345 2 years, 11 months ago

I don't even know what to say to this. I can't think of a single part of this proposal that I can even agree with.

First - what a terrible location for a police station. It's in a good location now, but I realize there isn't room to expand. Still, inside a metal building in an industrial park isn't the right spot.

Second, WHY??? There are so many ways to better utilize what's there than spending this kind of money! Are people just dreaming up ways to use bond money without letting people's taxes go back down?

I really think our leadership needs to think about whose money it is that they are spending. Just because they can think of a use for it doesn't make it legitimate. Don't give me all that crap about mill levies and neighboring towns either. All the towns around here have the same problem. They can't think of ways to spend the money fast enough.

What were taxes ten or fifteen years ago? The town was 2/3 the size it was today, the mill levy a little lower, and home valuations half. The cities budget has just about tripled and now they seem to have run out of useful things to spend money on. How about just lowering the mill levy?

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Michael Vestal 2 years, 11 months ago

The City Already owns an old building & a house that could be raised and a building for city hall & police built right on Main St. If The City is inclined to build a new facility. City or I should say, citizens already own the land it sits on. City workers could possibly assist in or actually tear down the buildings. I am not sure what it would cost to build something like you wanted instead of buying something and then having to remodel like you need it. Just wanted to throw that out there.

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straightup 2 years, 11 months ago

Whatdahey: The way all of the post looks is that we want the city to pay the debt down and be able to lower the taxes then find a solution on the police station. Not to spend more money to raise our taxes. Anyway No one ever said anything about a new city hall. That would cost even more. This is just not the time to be making improvements like new buildings or buying a building. I think the school bond not passing proved that. I would hope the city would have got that message also.

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William Peak 2 years, 11 months ago

Appreciate the input and the thinking behind them. Please feel free to express those at meetings. Attending meetings may help give a better picture than the edited articles. Thanks.

Bill Peak

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Michael Vestal 2 years, 11 months ago

I agree, The debt should be paid down. I definitely Do Not have a problem with that as No one should. I was just throwing that out there, IF, they, City, was Inclined to go ahead with such an expensive project. However, thinking about it, There could be No city hall builr without doing a bond issue, but Public safety building does not require a Bond Issue. Councilman peak, Is that correct or not?

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William Peak 2 years, 11 months ago

I am not sure but will check and get back with you. Give me until Monday afternoon. I am dealing with elderly and a very sick parent so am out of town one or two days a week. I am sure I can have answer Monday. Thanks for all of the concerns.

Bill

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William Peak 2 years, 11 months ago

Whatdahey is correct. The city would need a bond election for a new City Hall but not for Police Station. Sorry about just getting this on. I need to clarify that I do speak as a private citizen and not for the council on this site. Hope to see you all at the meetings! Thanks

Bill Peak

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William Peak 2 years, 11 months ago

I have a question. Where is the city council agenda and the story about the animal ordinance listed in the May 4 edition? Hope everyone is able to read and weigh in. Thanks.

Bill

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