Discussions about the Smyrna police station expansion continued at Monday’s Smyrna Town Council meeting as there were still questions pertaining to how the town will pay for the expansion and the expected impact on residents.
Council approved to move forward with the proposed police station project at their Aug. 6 meeting and gave approval to Town Manager Dave Hugg to apply for a USDA loan.
Councilman Jeff Flairty said he’s concerned with moving forward with the project without establishing how the town will pay for it.
“I’m just very concerned that we are building, or potentially building, a police station over 26,000 square feet for a population of 10,000 people,” Flairty said. “What if the town doesn’t expand?”
Flairty told council he wants the Finance Committee, as he asked them to do two months ago, to see if the town can even afford a $4.9 million expansion.
The police station expansion topic delved into familiar territory as several council members made their concerns clear whether it was fear of waiting on this project or concern with operating costs of a larger building.
Councilman Bob Johnson said doing the capital budget, which shows all the upcoming projects, prior to approving an operating budget will allow the Finance Committee to determine if a tax increase is needed.
Mayor Pat Stombaugh said all the information Flairty asked for was given at previous meetings, including the possibility of USDA funding. Flairty countered that discussions regarding the police station project and the possible utility projects in town lack information on how residents will be impacted.
Stombaugh then called into question Flairty’s concern for building a police station for the future by asking about the new library. Stombaugh asked Flairty if the Smyrna Public Library Guild was building for the future or the present to prove her point of building for the future.
Flairty said that while yes, the library guild is building for the future, there’s one important difference: the town is not paying for the new library.
“They aren’t coming to the town for money, they aren’t coming to the residents for money to increase taxes,” Flairty said. “They are going to foundations. The state is going to pay half.”
As the conversation continued, Stombaugh even announced this would be her last year on council and she had no intentions of running again: “People come to us all the time and want this, want that,” Stombaugh said. “All these things people come to us for, well where do they think it’s going to come from.”
Flairty went on to say that all he’s asking for is to be provided the proper information so he can make an educated decision: “I want a police station that these guys and me can be proud of at the end of the day,” Flairty said. “But I won’t be proud of making a decision without appropriate information.”
Eventually, Flairty said if someone could define a process where council would be given the proper information, he would drop his motion.
Stombaugh said it would probably be sometime in November once the fiscal year 2013 budget is finished; with that the motion was dropped.
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