Wakarusa police department in need of an upgrade, cost concerns community
Officials in Wakarusa want to move the police department in to a new building, but the price tag is raising some eyebrows.
In 1992, the city purchased a home on Spring Street next to the fire department in case they wanted to expand. At the time, the police department was sharing an office with the town manager.
As a short term fix until the police department could find another building, they started working out of the home next to the fire department. Twenty five years later, they are still there.
The restrictions have made it more difficult for them to effectively do their jobs.The five full time officers and five reserve officers are pretty crammed in the small space.
Evidence is kept in the basement of the police department. When it rains, the basement often gets wet. Over the years, they’ve had several bouts of black mold. There's also no private area for interviewing witnesses.
“In a house, that’s all it can ever be is a house. Basically what we want is a functioning police department so we can do evidence the right way, so we can do interviews,” said Town Manager Jeff Troxel.
Troxel and his team began exploring the idea of moving the police department a few years ago. Last year, the city purchased the former KeyBank building downtown
The town council held a meeting Tuesday night where they anticipated passing the project through the next phase. But with so many questions from the community, they tabled the vote and decided to hold another meeting on April 11th.
Troxel says a lot of the community’s concerns over the price tag, are because of rumors and misinformation.
The first cost estimate for the project was around $2 million. Troxel says while there’s a lot of necessary work to get the building up to code, it will likely cost much less.
Still, the council says they do not want residents to foot the bill.
Initially, one of the options was to raise property taxes by an average of $100.
With $800,000 already set aside for the project, the council is hoping the rest of the money can come from a county bond.