We Have a Ballot Measure: $12.5 Million, City and Hall and Police Station Expansion

Following a two-hour special meeting on Thursday, July 20, the City Council made 11 text amendments to the draft ordinance to ensure a Police Station expansion was added to the capital bond measure slated for the November 7 General Election. The result is a $12.5 million project with a roughly 18,000 square foot City Hall and 3,000 square foot Police Station expansion. Funding would occur with a 30-year capital bond.

The Council had provided direction to prepare an ordinance on July 13 and after seeing the draft ordinance on July 17, they raised concerns about not having the Police Station expansion on the ballot title even though it was included in the project. Their original direction included capital bond funding for only the City Hall portion of the project and using future retired debt funds for the Police Station expansion. The result was a ballot title that would have addressed the City Hall component. The Council heard concerns that residents would not support the measure unless the Police Station was included in the ballot language.

Councilmember Seaun Richards proposed an amendment to lower the total cost of a combined project to $12.5 million – previously the City Council had reduced a $13.4 million combined project cost estimate to $12.8 million. Councilmember Richards cited that previous opponents to past measures said they would not run a campaign against a $12.5 million proposal that included the Police Station expansion. After another round of public comment, several citizens spoke in favor of the idea.

Councilmember Laura Sonmore, the most tenured member of the Council, stated that this might be the most collaborative issue she had seen in her time (16+ years) on the Council. Speaking to the audience she said, “We heard what you were saying and we really took it to heart. We listened to what you said.”

Councilmember Wahl encouraged the city to seek partnerships and other resources for other components of the project such as parking and a public gathering space.

The Council stressed the importance of constructing City Hall and the Police Station expansion at the same time while keeping the project as affordable for voters as possible. They noted that doing so ensures public safety needs are met and saves money in the long run by not piecemealing the projects.

Full design of a new City Hall will occur if funding is approved by voters. The layout would provide an opportunity to modernize the Police Station with a new facade to fit in with the City Hall building. The additional Police Station space would likely include security improvements such as a sally port to transport suspects in and out of the building. If a measure is approved in November, final design would occur in 2018-19 and construction in 2019-2020.

Other action at the July 20 special meeting included the dissolution of the City Hall Advisory Committee since they had completed their work, and appointment of the Pro and Con Statement Committees. The city must submit all its election documents to Snohomish County Elections by August 1.