Avon, Fire District eyeing ballot questions
AVON — The town doesn’t need voter approval to secure the money necessary to build a new police station, but will likely ask for it anyway.
Bob Ticer, Avon’s police chief, hosted a tour of the town’s current police station on Tuesday, offering the public a glimpse of the cramped conditions his department is currently working in.
He said an archaic, beat up holding cell had to be transformed into an evidence room; a garage had to be converted to bulk storage, and the building’s elevator doesn’t come down to the Police Department’s floor.
“All these spaces are really tight, none of them meet American Disabilities Act standards,” Town Engineer Justin Hildreth told those on the tour Tuesday.
Ticer added some concerns with the unsecured parking area where police vehicles are stored.
“The ladies that are doing VIN inspections, they’re really dodging traffic back and forth throughout the day here, it’s completely open,” he said. “We’ve had three of our vehicles vandalized back here. In my previous police department, I had a police car parked at my house and I had somebody defecate on the hood of my car, so those are the kinds of things that we have happen to police cars where they’re (out in the) open.”
GO VS. COP BONDS
Officials at the Eagle River Fire Protection District and the town of Avon agree the Buck Creek Road site adjacent to the Centura Health facility, currently under construction, would be an ideal location for a joint public safety facility housing police and fire services. The price tag on a joint fire and police facility would exceed $10 million, paid for by Avon and the Fire District, and would require voter approval and a property tax increase, at least on the Fire District’s side. On the town of Avon’s side, the police department alone could cost as much as $7.5 million, and the town could obtain the money using certificate of participation bonds, which don’t require voter approval, or it could seek a general obligation bond and ask residents for a property tax increase. A property tax increase would require voter approval, but even if the Avon Town Council decides to opt for certificate of participation bonds, which would be paid out of the town’s real estate transfer tax fund, they would still ask voters to approve that decision, the Town Council indicated Tuesday.
“In general, the interest rates (between general obligation bonds and certificates of participation) are similar, but (certificate of participation bonds) are slightly higher than general obligation bonds,” Avon Assistant Town Manager Scott Wright told the Town Council on Tuesday. “The town’s legal debt limit is almost $42 million dollars, of that, as of Dec. 31 of this year, we will only have outstanding $515,000.”
The town’s legal debt limit is 25 percent of the town’s total assessed value, which is approximately $196 million.
Of the two options, general obligation bonds or certificates of participation, Wright said the choice depends on the timing as interest rates expected to rise in 2016. On a general obligation bond, the mill rate increase would range from 1.8 to 2 mills, Wright said.
“The town, currently, on its outstanding GO bonds which mature next year, the rate is going to be 2.9 mills, so even though, if this would pass, it wouldn’t be an extension of the mill. It would be a net savings to the local citizens of approximately 1 mill on an ongoing basis,” he said.
To determine the annual property tax bill on a property, the mill rate is multiplied by the property’s assessed value and divided by 1,000.
NOV. 10 DECISION
Alternatives to the Buck Creek Police Station include a remodel of the current police station, and locations on town-owned land on Lot 5 near Home Depot and Swift Gulch Road north of Interstate 70. Most of the council agreed the Buck Creek site, with its access to existing neighborhoods and the interstate, would be the best location. Mayor Jennie Fancher said she likes the Lot 5 location as it would be a less expensive build by a couple of million dollars because the town already owns the land. The council directed staff to come up with an option for a police station at the Buck Creek site which would cost $7.5 million or less.
One of the opportunities for cost savings came from garage spaces for police vehicles, something Ticer stressed is important for secure parking. Options for the 17,209-square-foot police station included one containing eight indoor spaces for approximately $7 million, and another with 22 indoor spaces for $7.5 million.
“If you’re going to spend $7 million, and get eight garage spaces versus $7.5 million for 22 garage spaces, plus surface parking, I think it’s worth the incremental increase,” councilman Matt Gennett said.
The Eagle River Fire and Protection District has indicated they will be asking voters for a tax increase in a May election to construct their portion of the Buck Creek facility. The Avon Town Council is expected to vote on the police station, and whether or not to send it to the ballot, at their Nov. 10 meeting.