KAYSVILLE -- Just when Kaysville residents and city leaders were about to find a measure of political peace, a thorny old issue has resurfaced. The city council and police chief are reviving efforts to build a new police station.
After a bitter campaign, in November 2010 Kaysville voters by a 56 to 43 percent margin rejected a maximum $4.5 million parameter bond to build a new 20,000-square-foot police station at about 85 E. 100 North. About 50 percent of the city's registered voters cast ballots in the election.
The original bond resolution voted on was "not to exceed 4.5 million" or 21 years of debt. Based on those figures, building the station would have cost the average homeowner $32.97 more a year in property taxes, according to city officials.
But based on need, officials now want to revisit building the station, which they anticipate will be about the same size and same cost as the original proposal they floated three years ago.
The police department currently operates out a 5,000-square-foot building. To gain some additional space, the department -- with a staff of 23 full-time officers, one part-time officer and three civilians -- brought in a construction trailer to work out of for now.
In response to the situation, the city council at its Nov. 19 meeting gave approval for the city to proceed with a design for a new station and determine a cost estimate for the project.
But a citizens' group is leery of Police Chief Sol Oberg's request, fearing it will resemble the original project voters in 2010 rejected because they felt it was too big and too costly.
"It's kingdom-building," said Margaret Brough, who suspects city leaders are behind Oberg's public request.
"I think they are trying to have (Oberg) carry the water for them," Brough said of officials who have shared little publicly as to what size station they are proposing.
But Oberg said he made the request of his own volition for the city to proceed with a design for a new station.
As police chief, he wants to stay out of the political fights that are occurring between city leaders and some residents, Oberg said. But in interviewing for the police chief job in 2012, Oberg said, one of his concerns was having a new police station built. "It was on my radar before I was even hired (September 2012)," he said.
Before approaching city leaders with his request, Oberg said, he attended training to help him identify the components necessary for a police station, and as a result of the training, he tweaked the previous proposed station plans.
Even with the tweaking, Oberg said, the station he is looking at having built would be about the same size as the station that was proposed in 2010. "But everything I have in there, I think is completely justifiable," he said.
"I don't want some big, grandiose, unnecessary thing," Oberg said. He said he is not asking the city for a blank check.
But to be prudent, he said, he wants a station that will serve Kaysville through its population buildout of 45,000 residents, which would require a police staff of 34 to 40 sworn officers, not including civilian positions.
The chief is optimistic that voters will understand.
Oberg said the people he has talked to didn't reject the new station in 2010 based on its size, cost or features, but because of timing. The previous vote took place in the middle of the recession when many residents didn't know where their next dollar was coming from, Oberg said.
"It was not the time. That is what I have heard from everybody," he said.
City officials somewhat agree.
"The (2010) election was based on a choice of the method of funding, and not whether (a new station) was needed or not," City Finance Director Dean Storey said.
But Orwin Draney, a member of Kaysville Citizens for Responsible Government, said the bond to build the station was defeated because the project the city was looking at building was too big and costly.
Due to increased construction costs and rising interest rates, Storey said, he doesn't anticipate the city will get much of a cost break.
"I don't expect (the new cost estimate) will be a lot different from the original ($4.5 million) number," he said.
But the process in which city leaders have gone through to get to this point makes Brough suspicious.
"I know it has never gone away," Brough said, referring to options for a new police station being discussed in an unadvertised March 1, 2011, meeting. According to City Manager John Thacker no minutes were taken at that meeting.
"I'm not quibbling about cost. I'm quibbling about what was in the (original) plan," Brough said.
The proposed design for the police station included a "huge workout room," where the current station is only about 20 yards from a recreation center, Draney said.
According to officials, however, the particular recreation center Draney is referring to offers no workout room.
The original station design also included a large 911 call center.
"This took up quite a bit of space," said Draney, who questions the need for such a center, when the city's emergency calls after 5 p.m. and on weekends are transferred to the Davis County Sheriff's Office dispatch center.
"It is much more economical for the Davis County Sheriff's Office to handle these calls than have Kaysville hire a supervisor and several 911 clerks to handle this. It is a matter of economics," Draney said.
The reason the 2010 bond failed was because of the size of the station, on which the public never had any input, Brough said.
"It was shoved down our throats," she said. "We were given this plan or nothing. We chose nothing."
Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.