Progress for new A.G. police station: City may not raise taxes, official says

Arroyo Grande city officials are moving forward with an estimated $6 million plan for a new police station.

City officials have already crafted a plan that would raise money for the upgrade without increasing property taxes, City Manager Steve Adams said.

That plan includes a possible bond measure slated for the June 8 ballot. That measure would also pay off bonds approved by voters in 2003 to build the city’s fire station.

Despite general financial constraints, Adams said now is the time to take advantage of low construction costs as a way to achieve long-term savings.

The City Council is asking staff to solicit feedback from the community on the proposed plans.

A sales tax measure approved by voters in 2006 will provide a portion of the funds needed for the project.

City officials hope to sell the existing police station and use that money — which they estimate to be about $1.5 million — for a new station, Adams said.

It’s unclear when the building would sell, Adams said. In the meantime, the city might borrow money from an internal fund to cover construction costs and reimburse it when the building is sold.

The plan includes acquiring a county-owned parcel at West Branch Street and Rodeo Drive in exchange for a few conditions including rezoning other county property, taking over a county-owned street and assisting with a workforce housing project, according to Adams.

Officials say the new station is necessary to accommodate a larger staff, and to support an expansion of a dispatch center and evidence and equipment storage.

Staffing has nearly tripled since the existing station opened in 1973, according to data from the city.

The remainder of the money needed would come from refinanced bonds approved by voters in 2002 to expand the fire station. The city would still have money to pay off the remaining debt for the fire station upgrade without raising property taxes, Adams said.

The proposal would require two-thirds approval from voters on the June 8, 2010, ballot. Surveys are expected to be sent to local households as a way to solicit feedback.

Staff is expected to return in January for council consideration of the proposed funding mechanism.