Grand Junction City Council wants public safety plan

Grand Junction City Council members Friday directed City Manager Laurie Kadrich to come up with a 20-year plan for local public safety facilities.

The plan will include a current list of public safety priorities, cost projections for potential buildings and a list of possible ways to fund those buildings. Costs will likely be based on phased construction, Mayor Teresa Coons said.

“We’ll bring that information to the public and get their input” before going ahead with any potential ballot measures, Coons said.

Council members tossed around several funding possibilities for public safety construction Friday during the first day of a two-day retreat in a Grand Junction Regional Airport conference room.

Council member Bonnie Beckstein said the city needs to see what is affordable and pick a funding mechanism that doesn’t involve increasing sales tax, which was one of the two funding mechanisms for local public safety construction suggested on the November 2008 ballot measure that voters rejected.

“I can’t in this economy even ask voters to support a sales tax,” Beckstein said.

The city could wait four and a half years until the Riverside Parkway debt is paid and see if voters would like to use the same funding mechanism to pay for public safety facilities, Councilman Bruce Hill said. This would have been the funding mechanism used to build facilities if just one of two ballot measures in 2008 had passed. The ballot question would not have sunset the TABOR refund override, which could be reconsidered in the list of funding possibilities in the 20-year plan.

Councilman Sam Susuras said he doesn’t want to wait four-plus years to start building. He suggested the city see how citizens feel about a short-term bond issue until the parkway debt is paid. If the public is amenable to the idea, he suggests placing a bond question on a ballot as soon as April.

Councilman Gregg Palmer said much rides on the city’s second attempt in recent years to build public safety facilities.

“If we go to a vote and lose again, I don’t see how we’ll get this built,” Palmer said, saying the key is to listen to what voters want. “I don’t know how we ever get a third shot at this.”


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