Raleigh postpones public safety cntr vote


Several said they needed more information before deciding if the city can afford the 17-story office tower.

If built, the Lightner Public Safety Center would be home to the police department, fire, and 911 dispatch. Supporters of the building - including Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker - say the current facilities are outdated and too small for a city of Raleigh's size.

But opponents question the timing and the scale of the building - saying taxpayers can't afford it in the current economy.

"Question is, with the bad economy, do we need to rethink the details of it, the cost of it, the timing of it, and how we're going to pay for it?" questioned Council Member Russ Stephenson.

Other council members say they can't sign off on the project until a new city budget is drafted.

"I think that we definitely need to look at any new construction that we'd do in context of a budget," offered Council Member Bonner Gaylord.

Last week, Gaylord sent an e-mail to the rest of the council likening the building to a Rolls Royce - bigger than the city needs and flashy.

Tuesday, Mayor Meeker countered.

"To me this is not a luxury car," he said. "It's the difference between a fire truck and a pickup truck. Yes, a fire truck costs a lot more than a pickup truck but they do different services."

But the biggest question and potential sticking point is cost. The project calls for a tax increase of 8 percent over five years.

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