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Proposing solution for Chubbuck’s future facilities needs

July 29, 2018 GMT

By projecting the city of Chubbuck’s historical annual growth rate of 2.5 percent into the future, a facilities needs assessment by LCA Architects determined that approximately 68,470 square feet of additional space would be needed by the City’s Fire, Police, and City Hall departments over the next 20 years.

To determine the most effective, efficient, and economical solution, leadership from my city administration met regularly for months. City officials, including the Fire Chief, Police Chief, Public Works Director, Human Resources Director, the City Clerk, and myself evaluated alternatives and prioritized current and anticipated needs of each department and then did so for the City as a whole.

Through unanimous agreement, a preferred solution was identified which would cause the remodeling of the existing City Hall and dedicate its use entirely to the Police Department, which would construct a new city administration building, and which would construct a new fire station.

The existing police department area was constructed over 35 years ago and was originally built to house 12 officers and support staff. In 2004, an addition was built to house a patrol room and 4 offices; today, that same space houses 37 officers and staff.

At the same time in 2004, a public works addition was constructed which was designed to accommodate 10 staff and a part-time mayor; currently, the space houses 17 full and part time employees and elected officials in addition to seasonal interns.

The fire department’s needs for a new building are related to response times which, as the City has been expanding via annexations, have seen increased response times.

“As the City expands, so too must our ability to reach the new neighborhoods,” stated Fire Chief Merlin Miller. “Through the facilities priorities meetings, each department head has truly set aside selfishness in favor of looking at the bigger picture. That is rare in any organization.”

At a City Council study session on July 18, the department heads and I discussed alternatives that were evaluated and the anticipated costs and funding mechanisms for each.

• Option 1: Remodel police station and City Hall and dedicate all of the space for the Police Department, construct a new public works/City Hall building, and construct a new fire/EMS station. Estimated cost of approximately $23.2 million.

• Option 2 Progressive additions and remodels to public works and police department areas and construction of a new fire/EMS station. Estimated cost of approximately $30.5 million.

• Option 3: Construct a new police station, remodel existing police and city hall facility for the public works and clerk’s departments, and construct a new fire/EMS station. Estimated cost of approximately $22.2 million.

We discussed that although Option #3 is the cheapest, it has a larger impact on funds generated through property taxes than Option #1. The difference between the two alternatives is that water, sewer, and sanitation funds could legally fund a greater portion of Option #1 than Option #3.

I believe that this option would have a lesser impact on City taxpayers and could be pursued through the typical annual municipal budgetary process.

We have taken the facilities needs and the needs of Chubbuck’s taxpayers very seriously and we are positive that Option #1, our preferred solution, addresses both of those aspects in a very efficient and economical manner.

We will present potential funding mechanisms to the City Council at the upcoming FY 2019 budget hearing on Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. at Chubbuck City Hall and I invite all those who would like to provide input on the budget proposal to attend.

This column was submitted by Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England.