A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Police and fire stations: Another step

Written December 11th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Frank Morse, left,  and Dave Burright ask the council to accept their  committee's report Wednesday.

Frank Morse, left, and Dave Burright ask the council to accept their committee’s report Wednesday.

Next time, the Albany City Council can probably count on at least three more votes than it got the last time for a bond issue for a new police headquarters and downtown fire station. But it is hoping for a lot more than that.

Retired Linn County Sheriff Dave Burright says he, his wife and mother voted against the $20.3 million package when it was rejected in 2013. Next May, voters will likely get a proposal for no more than $18 million, and Burright says he’ll support it and he’s pretty sure his wife and mother will too.

Burright and retired state Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, Wednesday asked the city council to accept the recommendations of a special review committee they co-chaired on the police and fire plans. The council thanked them and all the panel’s members for their long and tedious  work — 15 meetings over several months, totaling some 450 person hours in the reckoning of Councilor Floyd Collins — and voted unanimously to accept the report.

The council also got an update on what the design consultant chosen for the combined project, Mackenzie of Portland, will charge: $112,850 for a preliminary architectural and design services for the police station, and $105,550 for the same work on the fire station. That work is supposed to be finished by February, when the council plans to put the smaller bond proposal on the ballot for a May 2015 election.

If the voters approve the  bond, Mackenzie then would finish the designs for both buildings and provide services during construction. In total the firm would charge $1,061,150 for working on the police project and $721,730 for the fire station, including the preliminary designs.

The Morse-Burright committee recommended that the combined project costs be no more than $24.4 million, and that $1.4 million come from the CARA downtown urban renewal program, $5 million from the city’s Pepsi settlement fund, and $18 million from the bond issue. They also recommended that any savings in the projects be used to reduce the bond amount so that taxpayers would bear less of the cost. (The $24.4 million estimate of the total cost does not count the price of the land the city bought for the new police headquarters on Pacific Boulevard and the expansion of the fire station on Lyon Street.)

The council created the Morse-Burright committee to assure voters that the projects would get a critical review by knowledgeable people other than city officials. That part of the plan has worked as intended. Whether the overall strategy works we’ll find out on the evening of May 19. (hh)

5 responses to “Police and fire stations: Another step”

  1. Jim Engel says:

    Lemme get the picture right as put in this mornings D-H. Out of one side of the councils mouth they have no problem in keeping our water bills the highest around. Then on the other side of it’s collective mouth they tell us of the consulting costs for the two proposed Taj Mahals. Couldn’t they have separated the announcements by a week or so to allow most of the average voters to forget & not immediately put two and two together?!

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “…keeping our water bills the highest around.”

      I’ll be happy to email you the chart showing that Albany is no where near “the highest around.” My work email is: rkopczynski@communityservices.us

    • Hasso Hering says:

      As for water bills, comparisons are difficult because some cities add street and rain taxes to their combined water and sewer bills while others don’t. The Albany council Wednesday was shown a table comparing total water and sewer utility bills. The table shows that among the 10 largest Oregon cities (Albany being the 10th largest), for residences using 800 cubic feet of water a month, only Portland charges more ($162) than Albany with $92. Comparable monthly bills are $76 in Corvallis, $132 in Lebanon, and $111 in Sweet Home. (hh)

  2. tom cordier says:

    I guess Hasso did not find the discussion about reducing the costs to actually operate the buildings as important. The building design must reflect the desire to reduce operating costs incurred by headcount. What staffing increases will be seen because the plan shows rooms (that) can be called.jail cells, detention rooms, or holding cells. I don’t want another Public Safety Levy on the ballot in 2016 because we don’t have enough money to operate the police building. The last County public safety levy to open the closed jail wing still has not re-opened. The last Albany Public Safety levy passed by a very slim margin and there was no organized opposition. That may change if the buildings don’t provide headcount constraints.
    Please recall the City spends $24.5M annually for fire&police; which is mainly headcount.

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