NORTH OGDEN — North Ogden leaders are weighing construction of a new $11.6 million police department structure to replace the existing facility, possibly bonding for the project, which could cause a bump in property taxes.
The proposal has been the focus of study by Salt Lake City-based consultant JRCA Architects, and as North Ogden budget deliberations get underway for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, officials will be debating what exactly to do. With a possible increase in property taxes, the debate will likely provoke a debate about how much residents are willing to pay for public safety.
“I think it is being looked at very seriously,” Jon Call, the North Ogden city attorney, said Wednesday. The original section of the existing police department structure at 515 E. 2600 North was built in 1962, and the building, at least the oldest part, has surpassed its expected 50-year life span. What’s more, the building is cramped, far too small to accommodate expected police department growth in years to come, officials say. The North Ogden Police Department currently has a force of 20 officers, according to Call.
The topic was the focus of discussion at Tuesday’s North Ogden City Council meeting, when Mayor S. Neal Berube broached the possibility of a tax hike to cover the cost.
“I just want to be transparent in the fact that moving forward with this building will result in us probably going out for a bond,” he said. He went on, saying a bond, if officials go that route, “will result in a property tax increase.”
He didn’t specify the possible increase but said more information would be put to the public as the discussion evolves.
Talk of building a new police department goes back five to 10 years, according to Call. Chief Dirk Quinney spoke in favor of building a new structure as did Councilwoman Cheryl Stoker. “I don’t know how they’ve done it this long. So hats off to you guys for working in this situation,” Stoker said.
Berube called a new police department structure “a need” and said assuring public safety “is the number one obligation” leaders have to the public.
Per JRCA estimates, the new structure would cost $10 million, with another $1.6 million in land acquisition, equipment and other costs. The existing building, which also houses North Ogden Justice Court, measures around 8,000 square feet while the new one, as proposed by JRCA, would measure 23,655 square feet with an ancillary 2,400-square-foot structure.
According to Call, the building serving as the police department used to be city hall. “It’s not an ideal situation. The building was never built as a police station,” he said.
In floating the possibility of bonding for the project, Berube noted that much of the city’s current resources are earmarked for other projects and initiatives. He also acknowledged that tax hikes don’t sit well with many. “I don’t like taxes myself,” said Berube, who took office in January as mayor after winning election to the post last November.
The proposal put forward by JRCA calls for building the new police building on existing department grounds, which sit near the current North Ogden City Hall structure. Another adjacent parcel would also likely have to be acquired to create the needed space.
Should the project proceed, Quinney said he hopes the new building can be built around the existing police department structure, enabling officers to stay put during construction. Demolition of the old building would follow. If that’s not possible, the department would potentially have to temporarily relocate during construction.