Taxpayers Assoc. calls for vote on Public Safety Center

January 11, 2010 6:53:35 PM PST
Opposition grew Monday against The City of Raleigh's plans for a new $205 million home for Raleigh Police Department and other safety agencies.

The Wake County Taxpayers Association e-mailed a four point list to the media of reasons why the project needs more review and a vote by taxpayers.

Earlier this month, the Raleigh City Council delayed a vote on plans for the 17-story office tower that would house the police department, fire, and 911 dispatch. Supporters of the proposal - including Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker - say the current buildings used by fire, police and 911 are outdated and too small for a city of Raleigh's size.

Meeker said at a recent meeting that now is the time to go ahead with the project because current construction prices are at bargain levels.

"Do we need a new public safety center," Meeker said January 6. "I think everyone is going to have to answer yes."

But Meeker and Raleigh's city manager have been peppered by questions from other council members who question the price tag and the design of the building. The Wake County Taxpayers Association echoed that Monday - pointing to the $653 per square foot proposed cost. WCTA President J. Russell Capps said developers the group spoke with said $100 to $150 is the normal range for public facility construction.

Capps also questioned the reasoning for combining all public safety operations in one large building - making it the target for potential terrorist attack. He said smaller scattered building outside of downtown would also come with lower land prices.

Lastly, he took aim at a proposed tax hike to pay for the building. He said in the current recession, homeowners are in no shape to pay for it.

Capps wants the issue to go before the voters in November. Meeker wants City Council to decide the issue. It could go back on the agenda for the next meeting later this month.

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