Provo voters to decide whether to pay more in property taxes to replace ‘dilapidated’ city buildings

PROVO — Provo voters this fall will have a chance to decide whether they want to pay more in property taxes over the next 20 years for a new city hall and a new police and fire building.

The Provo City Council this week voted to put a question on the November ballot on whether voters would approve a $69 million, 20-year bond to finance the construction of a new police and fire headquarters, emergency dispatch center and a city hall in downtown Provo, as well as a new fire station to replace Fire Station No. 2 on Canyon Road.

The bond, if passed by voters, would raise property taxes by nearly $120 a year on a $265,000 residence, or by nearly $218 a year on a business with the same value, according to city estimates.

City officials say the extra revenue would be used for long-needed upgrades to city buildings.

Provo’s current city center was built in 1972 when the city’s population and the police force were much smaller — and was meant to only last 25 years, said Cliff Strachan, Provo City Council’s executive director.

“And we’re at year 46 already,” Strachan said, adding that if the bond passes, it will be about 50 years by the time city officials can move into a new building.

Today, Provo’s city center buildings do not meet seismic standards and need significant repairs, according to city officials.

‘Dilapidated’ buildings

The existing Provo city center downtown is “in critical danger” if an earthquake were to occur, Dick Blackham, the city’s facilities manager, says in a video posted on Provo’s website about the bond. He said the aging building is becoming “increasingly unsafe” and has “long outlived its intended lifespan.”

Provo’s police and fire chiefs also say in videos on the city’s website that their headquarters and Fire Station No. 2 are not up to seismic standards and are dilapidated.

“Think about that for one minute,” Provo Police Chief Richard Ferguson said. “It would take one medium-sized earthquake to bring the department down. So this building is a hazard to our people, to our citizens who visit, and to our ability to accomplish our mission.”

Provo Police Chief Richard Ferguson said his officers have also “outgrown the space,” noting his department has more than doubled in size over the building’s 44-year life. He also said the evidence and storage areas are “overflowing” and threatened by potential flooding.

“We are one flooded basement away from losing key evidence in critical cases,” he said.

Provo Fire Chief James Miguel said Fire Station No. 2 was originally built as a home in the late 1950s and purchased by Provo in the late 1960s, then converted into a fire station. The building, he said, has become “structurally dilapidated” and has “substandard living conditions.”

“The list of serious problems is staggering,” he said, noting the roof, siding and window frames are failing and leaking, and black mold threatens the attic and basement. Additionally, he said plumbing and electrical systems have been struggling for the past 15 years.

“It’s painful, but it needs …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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