Part 2 of RDR’s interview with Mayor Kintigh, Councilor Best
Editor’s note: For part one of this story, click here.
The March 3 local elections will see voters decide on races for the Roswell City Council and a municipal judge position — and also vote up or down a proposed $35 million general obligation bond issue that has been the subject of much discussion. The bond issue is aimed at financing a new public safety complex that would include Roswell Fire Department administration, the Roswell Police Department, a fire station, municipal court, emergency communications and other first-response functions, all under one roof.
In projecting the expense of the proposed $35 million project, city staff used as a basis the cost of the Artesia Public Safety Complex built in 2013.
The bonds to finance the proposed Roswell public safety complex are expected to be paid off over 18 years. The obligation would initially raise property taxes $118 a year — or $9.83 a month — for a person whose property has a full taxable value of $100,000. According to city officials, the monthly tax obligation would be reduced after the first two years, and would be reduced gradually in other subsequent years over the life of the debt.
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The condition of existing facilities, on which millions in deferred maintenance is expected to be spent in coming years; the need for a safer and more efficient working environment for police and other emergency responders; and an anticipated boost to recruiting efforts have been cited as some of the reasons the public safety complex was proposed.
To provide voters with additional information, members of the Daily Record editorial staff recently interviewed Mayor Dennis Kintigh and City Councilor Jeanine Corn Best, who heads the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. The bulk of the answers provided by Kintigh and Best — covering issues such as the debt burden that would be created, plans for existing facilities should a new complex be built, and anticipated benefits of centralized emergency-response operations — were published in the Jan. 26 print edition, headlined: “Kintigh, Best discuss $35 million bond issue.” They can be accessed online at rdrnews.com. (Using the search feature — upper right-hand corner of the home page — type in “public safety complex” for this and other articles on the subject).
Editor’s note: For part one of this story, click here.
A few remaining topics from the interview are published here today. The excerpts published today have been edited for length and clarity.
On the subject of possible locations for the proposed new Public Safety Complex:
Kintigh: “I’m a huge advocate of the East Second (Street) and Garden (Avenue) area. We don’t have a fire station east of the railroad tracks. Fire Station 2 is about 4,700 feet south of that intersection. We need to be reasonably close to where Fire Station 2 is now, so that we don’t adversely impact response times. The Fire Department — Chief (Devin) Graham and his staff have looked at this and they say this is all workable — this will keep everything within the proper response times. That was a big part of this evaluation.
“I would like to see something on Second Street because I think it’s important to have a positive — on the presentation of our city — to people coming through on our east/west highway. East Second, candidly, has some rough spots. That is also an area in need of service. If you look historically at where we’ve had things like either our fires and/or violent crimes, they are relatively near there.
“Now, that is not an implication of individuals that reside there. What I’m simply saying is it’s a reality, we should look at being able to provide service as best we can. …
“There’s some areas there that we have some city property. Also, there’s some private land we’ve looked at … we have not acquired anything because we need to know what the voters decide. …
“The final decisions on which parcel … of land we’ll utilize is going to be finalized as part of the engineering and architectural studies. We don’t have stamped plans, because that is a multi-million dollar endeavor. It takes anywhere from 10 months to a year of design work to get to that point. …”
RDR: Land has to be purchased, and it’s not certain yet exactly what’s going to go into the building — so you’re saying we have $35 million, and that will be the top number, and the city will have to “plan down” from that? …
Kintigh: “But we base it on an actual case. The actual numbers for a construction project in this region, which we then adjusted for inflation to get to the $35 million. So it wasn’t just a number … we took an actual nearby … (the public safety facility built in Artesia) and that became the baseline.
“The area … we do have some city property that we already own that could be utilized. I don’t think it’s optimal. And the property that I’m interested in is not real high-dollar. So I’m comfortable that the $35 million is in fact a solid number.
“And it didn’t come from me. It came from senior staff that did the number-crunching.”
RDR: Didn’t the Aquatic Center end up costing a little more than the city thought it would?
Kintigh: “Steel went up in price.”
RDR: So there could be variables, right?
Kintigh: “There could be variables.”
RDR: So you would “design down” if that’s the case — start taking things out?
Kintigh: “We could do that. I think we’ve been a little more aggressive in our conservatism on this one though.”
Best: “And since it’s a complete complex … we’re sharing. We’re sharing classrooms, we’re sharing computers, stuff that we need to share.”
Kintigh: “If you look at Artesia, it’s a pretty nice facility. … It has stone facing … we don’t need that. We don’t need to make it as pretty as they made it.”
Best: “They had a lot of private donors.”
Kintigh: “They did. But the actual cost is what we’re looking at, what we used for a projection. I’m confident we’ve got a good, solid number we can work with.”
RDR: What assurances are there for people that the other infrastructure needs will continue to be met? We’ll still have money for roads?
Kintigh: “If we don’t do that (the bond issue and proposed project), then from (the) same pile of money we’ve got to pay for maintenance on these buildings and maintenance on the roads and salaries. … With this project, we’ll take pressure off the general fund.
“On the roads as well, there’s been some changes in state funding for roads that they did in the last legislative session that has not all the way filtered down. We’re hopeful we get additional revenues through the state highway department for some of our streets and roads. Hopeful. But we’ll see where that goes. We’ve got some of our staff working on that.”
RDR: Would you be open to the idea of a tour of the existing police department if people wanted it?
Kintigh: “Excellent question. As a matter of fact, yes. … Call the main number (City Hall): 624-6700.
“Anybody interested, reach out … and they will set up tours. Say which one you want to go to, and then they will set up the tours of the facilities. Mike Mathews (assistant city manager) will coordinate that, whether it’s with the Fire Department … if you want to see Fire Station 2, for example, and you don’t want to see the PD. OK, that’s going to be one time. If you want to go to the PD, but you don’t want to see Fire Station 2, that’ll be something different.”
RDR: And anybody in town can make that call and set something up?
Editor’s note: Kintigh and Best also pointed out that presentations are planned in the coming weeks to address voters’ questions. The following times, dates and locations were provided to the Daily Record:
• The Adult Center, Feb. 4 at 1 p.m.
• The Joy Center, Feb. 5 at 10 a.m.
• The Roswell Public Library, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
• The Recreation Center, Feb. 6 at 4 p.m.
• The Roswell Public Library, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.
RDR: So you’re putting together a citizens committee to campaign for this?
Kintigh: “It’s more of an ad hoc group, in the sense that some of us have been passionate about it … Councilor Best, private citizens. It’s not going to be so much a coordinated thing as much as people speaking from the heart.”
Best: “They need to be informed. The ones that are saying ‘no, no, no, no, no’ and the Facebook stuff, they’re not informed. …”
Kintigh: “Councilor Best has really knocked herself out to set up these meetings, because we want people to come. … I’m ready to make the presentation, I’m ready to answer the questions people have. Come and ask me. This is critical.
“I’ve had people say to me, ‘You shouldn’t do this. You’ll burn up all your political capital. This goes down, you’re done — you’re toast.’ And I will say to anyone and everyone, I will fall on my sword for these people. For our first responders, I will go to the mat to provide them a decent, safe efficient facility to work out of. When the people of this town are having a really rotten day and they call 911, these young men and young women come running.
“We owe it to them, and we owe it to ourselves to have as efficient a facility so that we can get the best out of them.”