The city has really looked closely at what our critical needs are, and we've weeded out any wants or any frivolous items. —Mayor Steve Hiatt
KAYSVILLE — City officials are calling a new police station, currently under construction, one of the city's "critical needs" as it considers a large property tax increase.
The Kaysville City Council met for eight hours Saturday to hammer out the proposed increase, which came out to 102 percent, Mayor Steve Hiatt said.
"The city has really looked closely at what our critical needs are, and we've weeded out any wants or any frivolous items," Hiatt said.
About 35 percent of the increase, or $425,000 annually, would go toward the new 20,000-square-foot police station, 85 E. 100 North, in addition to dollars designated for hiring new officers and firefighters, said city finance director Dean Storey.
Building a new police station has been a priority in the city for more than 10 years, Storey said.
The proposed increase would bring property taxes to $277 on a $250,000 home, up from the $137 residents currently pay, Storey said.
The push to raise property taxes also comes in response to Proposition 5, which specifies that revenue from the city's power company — about $395,000 annually — be used exclusively for electric needs. Part of that revenue also paid the salaries of some city police officers.
Kaysville voters passed Proposition 5 last November.
"With the passage of the proposition, that tool has been taken away from us," Hiatt said. "We have very few tools as a local governing body to provide core services to residents, and when you take one of those tools away, it makes it a little bit harder to do your job."
Kaysville has taken out revenue bonds to pay for the new police station, which must be paid for through the city's revenue. The bonds, which are not to exceed $5.5 million, were sold to Bank of Utah earlier this year, Storey said.
A $4.5 million municipal bond to build a new police station was struck down by 57 percent of voters in 2010.
The old police station was constructed in 1985 to accommodate nine officers, and the city currently employs 23 officers, Hiatt said.
Kaysville Police Chief Sol Oberg said problems with the aging station begin right in the lobby, which is too small for more than a few people and doesn't offer any privacy for victims coming in to report a crime. It also doesn't have any bulletproof glass to protect officers and staff.
From there, there are several safety concerns, Oberg said. The station doesn't have much interview space, which can be a hazard when police meet with conflicting parties, and the station's only interrogation room abuts the area where members of the public come to get fingerprinting done for their employers. There is also insufficient and insecure storage for records and evidence, he said.
"It's incredibly difficult for these guys to do their jobs," Oberg said, indicating where a construction trailer once provided overflow work space for officers. "This building actually detracts from providing public safety."
The proposed property tax increase is part of the City Council's budget, which it will vote to adopt Tuesday. Residents can share their opinions about the budget at a public hearing June 17 and a truth-in-taxation hearing tentatively scheduled for Aug. 5.
Contributing: Mike Anderson
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