Public Safety Facility Bond 2011
Bonds for a Public Safety Operations and Training Facility will be on the May 14 ballot for Georgetown voters. On Tuesday night, the city council voted 7 to 0 to call a bond election in May for the $29.5 million facility.
The vote follows the unanimous recommendation of a 16-member citizen task force appointed by the council in January. The task force met four times with City staff and architect Brinkley Sargent to analyze public safety operations and training needs to develop their recommendation.
The ballot proposal would include a 70,000 square-foot facility for Police Department operations, an emergency operations center, a 24-hour emergency communications center, Fire Department administration offices, and an indoor training and locker area. Plans also include a training area with a small tactical building, outdoor classroom, obstacle course for training, and parking areas.
The facility would be constructed on 20 acres of property on D.B. Wood Road one-fourth of a mile south of Williams Drive. The property was purchased by the City last year.
Adjacent to the proposed facility on the same 20 acres, the City will build its fifth fire station, which was approved by the City Council last year. As with past fire stations, Fire Station 5 will be built with certificate of obligation bonds that do not require voter approval. At the Tuesday meeting, the city council voted to add a training tower and two smaller training buildings to the site plans for Fire Station 5.
(On the proposed site plan for the facility at right, note that buildings 1, 2, A, B, and D at the top of the site will be included in Fire Station 5, and will not be part of the Public Safety Facility on the May ballot.)
If voters approve the Public Safety Operations and Training Facility bonds in May, construction is set to begin next year with completion in 2014. The facility is projected to meet the City’s needs through 2030 with capacity to serve a population of 123,000 residents.
The price of the facility is estimated at $29.5 million, including debt issuance costs. The maximum one-year increase to the property tax rate is estimated to be about 5 cents, according to Chief Financial Officer Micki Rundell. Bonds for the facility would likely be issued in three or four phases to minimize the effect on the tax rate, according to Rundell. Lengthening the term of the bonds from 20 to 25 years also could lessen the maximum one-year tax impact. Georgetown’s current property tax rate is 35.6 cents per $100 valuation.
If approved, the bonds will not increase the property taxes paid by Georgetown homeowners who are 65-and-over or disabled and have frozen property taxes.
The current Police Department is located in a 11,300 square-foot building at 809 Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. The building was constructed in 1911 as the Georgetown Light and Water Works facility and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was renovated to become the police station in 1986.
Fire Department Administration offices are currently in an 8,200 square-foot building at 816 S. Main Street that was built in 1892. The Texas Historic Landmark Building has served as the City’s Water Department, jail, City Hall, and original fire station.
If the new Public Safety Operations and Training Facility is approved by voters, the current Police Department on Martin Luther King, Jr. Street could be converted to an arts center. Proposals for uses for the old fire station at 816 S. Main Street have included a Visitor Information Center or leased retail space. The old truck bays next to the historic fire station are slated to be renovated and become leased space for a winery.