Having rejected a $20.3 million bond measure for new police and fire facilities last fall, would Albany voters approve that amount, or more, when the issue comes before them again?

That was one of the primary questions debated at Thursday night's meeting of the city's public facilities review committee, attended by 12 panel members.

Frank Morse, co-chairman of the committee, presented rough numbers Thursday that predict the cost of new police and fire stations to be in the low to mid $20 million range, basically the same as the projected cost during the bond campaign; then, according to City Manager Wes Hare, the spread was about $19 million to around $24 million.

In that bond attempt, an additional $4 million had been dedicated for the police and fire project by the Albany City Council. The $4 million is part of the $18.5 million in settlement monies made to the city when PepsiCo backed out of a deal to build a Gatorade plant in Albany.

Hare told the panel that above that $4 million is an additional $5 million in settlement cash that had been designated for economic development but could, at the City Council's discretion, be used for the public safety facilities as well.

Morse said his goal and hope throughout the five months his committee has been meeting is to have the panel make a recommendation to the council that calls for a smaller bond amount than the one that failed last November, or at least not a larger amount.

"With the same $20.3 million, I'm not confident it's a done deal," co-chairman Dave Burright said. "If we want to be sure, as sure as you can be in an election, we should make it less than $20.3 million. If we do that and show the project has been vetted and that we've done our homework, we can make it as sure a thing as it can be, but if we want to really ratchet up our chance of success, we could let them know PepsiCo money is going to be used so we won't have to tax their property as much. What a wonderful selling tool that will be. But we also need to be sensitive to the business community that believes that money should be used for economic development."

Committee member Janet Steele of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce was not in attendance Thursday due to another commitment, the Leadership Albany graduation ceremony.

In addition to the settlement money and the funds from a bond issue, another potential funding source for the police and fire projects is CARA, Albany's urban renewal district. On May 20, the panel will hear a presentation on how urban renewal dollars might be applied to new public safety facilities.

Also Thursday, the panel approved a final draft of its recommendation for a new police facility. It calls for trying to secure properties adjacent to the current Jackson Street location to allow for expansion there, and if those properties can't be secured, to pursue building a new station on already-purchased property on Pacific Boulevard.

Follow Steve Lundeberg on Twitter, @AnyGivenLundy, or email him at steve.lundeberg@lee.net.


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