Big price tag for YC public safety
Talk about sticker shock: Yuba City City Council members got an $81 million estimate Tuesday night for police and fire facilities to handle future growth.
That was the cost, including financing, for a $51 million expanded police station and for a new, $9 million Fire Station No. 4. Financing adds another $21 million.
The council voted to approve $150,000 to complete construction drawings for the new fire station. Impact fees plus financing from the Lincoln East Specific Plan could pay for the new fire station, according to a city analysis.
But the cost to expand the police station from the current 22,500 square feet to 88,000 square feet is too much for impact fees to pay for and will probably require outside funding such as a sales tax, according to city officials.
The police station, already inadequate, will have to be expanded to handle a population that could eventually reach 140,000.
“Really, what you're looking at is a really big number,” said City Manager Steven Jepsen. “To come up with that in the short term is very difficult for us.”
Mayor Eric Hellberg floated the idea of a quarter percent sales tax. No action was taken on what was described as a hard sell in the community, but one necessary for public safety.
The city does not have the time to wait for tax dollars to roll in, even if such a measure were to be approved by voters.
That's because the city has to hire 18 more police officers right now to take over areas annexed from Sutter County, patrolled by the Sheriff's Department.
Police Chief Richard Doscher said the city is just about at the point where the areas need to be taken over. The county has asked the city to escalate the process because of the number of calls it is handling in annexed areas.
Jepsen said some interim steps that could be done with the police station include expanding the existing building, phasing in a new facility off site or renting an off-site facility.
Doscher said curtains are being used to separate some work areas. Immediate needs are for more lockers and more space for detectives.
“Is it crowded?” said Doscher, after the meeting. “Yeah, it's crowded. It doesn't detract from our No. 1 priority of delivering quality service.”