After years spent planning, meeting and navigating bond markets, the City of Turlock broke ground on the new, 57,570 square foot home for Turlock’s police and fire departments on Tuesday.
“This is an event that occurs once every 50 to 60 years in a community,” said Police Chief Gary Hampton.
Hampton said the new facility will serve Turlock for 50 to 100 years. He also said the facility would help Turlock to become leaner, combining police and fire administrations in one building.
The once-in-a-lifetime groundbreaking for the $33.6 million Public Safety Facility drew more than 100 attendees, including local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Veterans of Foreign Wars. The Naval JROTC presented the colors, accompanied by the Turlock Police and Fire Pipe Band, while Westside Ministries students performed a flag dance and sang “Proud to be an American.”
All five members of the Turlock City Council were present, as were numerous Turlock police and fire personnel, clad in dress uniforms, and former Turlock Councilman Kurt Spycher. Two homeowners who sold their property to the city so the Public Safety Facility could become a reality were among the guests of honor.
Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Atwater) sent a representative to the groundbreaking, who said he would attempt to make it to the ribbon cutting – expected in 16 to 20 months – himself.
“Ask the congressman to bring a check with him,” Hampton joked.
Despite Hampton’s joke, Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden provided assurances that funding is still on track for the Public Safety Facility.
“We just hope it stays on track,” Wasden said.
The largest chunk of the $33.6 million total, just over $13.5 million, will come from a sale of Turlock Redevelopment Agency bonds conducted In January. The $15.3 million bond issuance raised $13.5 million after the council received a better than expected interest rate, though worse than initially estimated.
That bond sale was rushed a bit to ensure Turlock spent RDA funding before Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed, statewide elimination of such agencies could be voted on. But the project was long in the making, and is in the interests of Turlockers, Hampton and Mayor John Lazar said.
“There is no better time than now to make the investment in our community,” Hampton said.
“We want to create jobs, and we want to create a safer City of Turlock,” Lazar added.
The bond sale will not increase fees for any Turlockers, as RDA bonds are repaid from existing property tax revenue increment, solely from properties within the redevelopment area. A little over $2.9 million in preexisting RDA funds will go toward the project as well.
More than $1.1 million in Prop 1B transportation funds will be redirected to perform road improvements associated with the project. Those funds would have otherwise been spent on various street resurfacing projects, including Tully Road north of Fulkerth Road and High Street.
About $4 million in a Capital Facility Fee Contingency Fund – fees paid by developers when they build in Turlock – will also be redirected to the project. That money had been used as seed funding for other projects in the past, including purchasing land for a new Fulkerth Road interchange, but was intended to eventually be directed toward a Public Safety Facility, City Engineer Mike Pitcock said a former city manager told him.
Only about $6.6 million will come from funds not already in the City of Turlock’s possession.
About $4.1 million will be collected through new Capital Facility Fees. While the CFF increase would come as a cost to developers – and ultimately to consumers who buy or rent their buildings – the City of Turlock said the per-unit cost would likely be similar to existing fees, given the higher unit density in the ongoing General Plan revision.
The main concern remaining, Wasden said, is selling the existing police facility on N. Palm Street. That sale is projected to generate $2.5 million toward the total cost.
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