Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Council Votes to Place Bond on November Ballot


COUNCIL TO PLACE BOND ON BALLOT FOR FIRE STATION, EMERGENCY DISPATCH CENTER, POLICE AND FIRE HEADQUARTERS, AND CITY HALL

PROVO, Utah – August 8, 2018 – The Municipal Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to hold a special bond election asking voters to authorize a $69,000,000 bond, repayable over 20 years, "for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, and equipping in the downtown area a new police and fire headquarters, emergency dispatch center, and city hall; acquiring, constructing, and equipping a new fire station to replace the fire station on Canyon Road; and providing for related improvements in Provo City."

An annual property tax to pay debt service on the proposed bonds will be required over a period of 20 years in the estimated amount of $119.80 per year on a $265,000 primary residence and in the estimated amount of $217.82 per year on a business having the same value. $265,000 is the median home value in Provo.

The bond will be on the ballot for the General Election set for Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  Ballots will be mailed to registered voters on October 16.

The Municipal Council considered three options proposed by the Administration, including (1) relocating to and renovating a former big box store at the Provo Towne Center, (2) constructing a new police headquarters and renovating the existing city center at the current location, or (3) building a new police and fire headquarters, emergency dispatch center, and city hall. All three options included replacement of Fire Station 2 on Canyon Road.

Provo’s current City Center was constructed in 1972 when the City’s population and police force were considerably smaller in number. The building does not meet seismic standards that apply today and needs significant repairs. In the past month, police, fire, and city officials have held open houses and conducted tours of the facilities to demonstrate the need. Police and City officials point to overcrowded and inadequate facilities as harmful to morale and makes the attraction and retention of police officers more difficult. 

With such a critical decision before them, Council members looked to the public for input. In addition to the tours and open houses, surveys, focus groups, phone calls, meetings, and email all provided Provo residents with information and an opportunity to ask questions and share their preferences.
“Our research showed that when people understood the challenges at the current city center where Provo’s police, fire, and city administration are located, and at Fire Station 2, support for doing something to improve city facilities grew remarkably” says Wayne Parker, Chief Administrative Officer. 

“We expected that people would prefer the lower cost option proposed at the mall. However, from comments on Open City Hall  [the Council’s online civic engagement tool]  and via email and other communications, we learned that our residents’ civic pride rose to the top. Council members heard again and again that if we do this, we should do it right, do it long term, and do it downtown” said Cliff Strachan, the Municipal Council’s Executive Director. 

In choosing the “build new, build downtown” option over a proposal from Brixton Capital (owners of the Provo Towne Center Mall), Council members expressed gratitude to Brixton representatives for the cooperation, efforts, and support received from Brixton over several months. Council members are supportive of Brixton’s investment in Provo.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on September 25, 2018, for the presentation of arguments for and against the ballot proposition and to present information on the tax impact. Information will be released shortly regarding the opportunity for eligible voters to submit an argument in favor of or against the ballot proposition. 

Information regarding the bond election and proposed facilities will be updated regularly on the Provo City website.


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