Public safety initiative still in limbo

Five months after Grand Junction voters rejected two funding mechanisms that would have paid for $98 million in new police, fire and courtroom buildings, the question of “what now?” isn’t much closer to being answered than it was the day after the election.

City officials continue to consider options to try to slice the cost of the project after city residents rebuffed both a quarter-cent sales-tax increase and a removal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights revenue cap.

Those measures would have allowed the city to build a facility with a police station, fire administration, a 911 dispatch center, a municipal courtroom and an emergency operations center.

There also would have been a new downtown fire station, a parking garage, an annex building used for storage and three neighborhood fire stations.

Police Chief Bill Gardner said administrators have talked about cutting out elements such as the $10 million parking garage and $4 million municipal courtroom, but nothing has been decided. The garage and courtroom were among the most criticized components of the project.

City leaders have suggested that there could be major changes to the main public safety complex based on property-purchase negotiations that have taken place in executive session. But there are no indications that those talks have produced any results.

City Manager Laurie Kadrich said it’s too early to know whether another measure could go on the ballot this fall.

With no local funding on the horizon, a team of city employees is closely monitoring the $787 billion federal stimulus package to see whether the city can obtain some funding from that bill.

The city intends to seek up to $15 million to build a new downtown fire station and remodel Fire Station No. 2, although the criteria for communities to apply for money have yet to be established.


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