Salt Lake City voters may soon be asked again to support a new headquarters for Salt Lake City's police and fire departments.

The City Council is considering putting $500,000 in earnest money toward the purchase of downtown property for a new public safety building.

The purchase, recommended Mayor Ralph Becker's administration, could lead to a bond initiative as soon as next year.

A new public safety building was included in the $192 million bond initiative narrowly shot down by voters in November.

That bond would have paved the way for five new public safety structures at three locations. About $100 million would have gone toward a new public safety building to replace the nearly 50-year-old building at 315 E. 200 South, which public safety officials have called "dilapidated" and "unsafe."

The potential purchase was among the budget amendments brought before the City Council during a work session Tuesday, though council members made no comments on the issue.

No funding mechanism for the facility has been proposed by Becker's team, but city officials have indicated that a bond initiative could be put on the ballot in 2009.

The earnest money would lock in an agreed-upon purchase price that would likely be funded through a bond, according to a staff report. If the bond fails, the city could still purchase the property using other money.

City officials have not disclosed the size and location of the property, as negotiations with the landowner are taking place. However, Councilman Carlton Christensen earlier Tuesday confirmed that the proposed site is in downtown.

If approved by the City Council, funds for the earnest money likely would come from the city's surplus land account using money from the sale of the former Hansen Planetarium property to O.C. Tanner.

Last year's proposal called for construction of a 126,000-square-foot public safety building to house police and fire administrations, the fire marshal and code-enforcement staff, police detectives and the city's homeland security unit.

The building was to be part of a downtown public safety complex that included a parking structure/evidence storage center and an emergency operations center.

Mayor Becker's proposed 2008-09 budget includes $150,000 in one-time money to fund a consultant to manage the overall development of the public safety project.


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