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Officials to consider new public safety complex

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Could a new public safety complex or command center be in the city’s future? City staff and elected officials are scheduled to discuss ways to finance the project this week. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

With several major building projects recently completed, Roswell city officials are considering a new public safety complex and might seek voter approval to issue bonds to pay for all or part of it.

“We are going to get a presentation from staff, and there will be a financial aspect attached to it as well as an infrastructure aspect, said Mayor Dennis Kintigh.

As of press time, he said, the potential cost of such a project has not been given.

The initial presentation is scheduled to occur at a Tuesday City Council workshop, 4:30 p.m., at City Hall, 425 N. Richardson Ave.

The workshop is for informational purposes only, Kintigh said, and will not involve a vote. He said part of the discussion will include a look at the city’s existing public facilities and what it will cost to keep those facilities repaired and maintained in future years.

At a second meeting on Tuesday, a Roswell City Council Finance Committee meeting at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall, city councilors serving on that committee are expected to decide whether the project and the question of a bond election should be forwarded to the entire City Council to consider at an Oct. 10 meeting.

Kintigh said the concept of the public safety complex, which has sometimes been referred to as a “command center,” has been discussed many times over the years. He said some city staff and elected officials have talked about building a center similar to what Artesia has, a facility that houses the fire department offices, police dispatch, the city’s public safety operations center and perhaps municipal court operations, the fire marshal’s office and code enforcement.

The city would be required to have the approval of local voters to fund the project in part or completely using general obligation bonds.

City councilors discussed the public safety complex during their September meeting when they voted on the city’s 2021-25 legislative Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) list, as well as a top-five priority project list, which they submitted to the state.

Projects on the legislative ICIP are eligible, if chosen by legislators, to receive state allocations or federal funding dispersed through state departments, according to city staff.

Councilor Judy Stubbs, said that she wanted to ensure the public safety project was considered for as many funding opportunities as possible, and moved to add the project to the ICIP list, although without giving it a priority number. Councilor Steve Henderson seconded. Mayor Dennis Kintigh broke a 5-5 tie with his vote in favor of the amendment, which added the project to the ICIP list.

Kintigh said that if City Council chooses to hold a bond election, that would need to occur during March 2020 local elections, or else the city would have to hold a special election.

“Under state law, special elections have to be mail-in ballots and those are hugely expensive,” he said.

The city has engaged in several major building and infrastructure projects during the past couple of years. It built a $23 million Recreation and Aquatic Center by increasing gross receipts taxes, or sales taxes; and it completed a $7 million expansion and renovation of the Roswell Convention Center, to be repaid using bed fees collected on motel and hotel stays. It also made about $4.6 million in repairs to a Roswell Air Center hangar roof and fire suppression system using federal grant money, a state loan and state appropriations; and it installed new “smart” water meters utilizing $20 million in private bonds expected to be repaid or recouped by increased water revenues and lower maintenance costs.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.