City continues to fine-tune possible local option levy proposal
The Tigard City Council continues to examine what services should be included with a proposed public safety levy that could be sent to voters in May 2020 with the city's police chief saying she supports funding to add police patrol officers as well as the creation of a Homeless Outreach Team.
On Tuesday, the council discussed what a local option levy — and possibly a bond measure to build a new police station — might look like.
Police Chief Kathy McAlpine told the council that she would like to see the addition of eight police officers for patrol duties in an effort to reduce the response times for the city's higher priority calls. Those times would be reduced from six minutes to five minutes.
In addition, McAlpine said the department would like to add a two-officer Homeless Outreach Team to deal with transient and homeless issues throughout the city. Those officers would work with both local "service providers and code enforcement to address illegal encampments in a timely manner," according to a city staff report.
Also included in a public safety levy would be plans to make sure all police officers receive 40 hours of training in advanced crisis intervention and situation "de-escalation" training.
Currently, the department has six vacant police officer positions.
Another discussion point Tuesday was cutting the local option levy amount request to half of what the city asked voters for last May. That likely would mean an amount below 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, officials said, down from a levy amount of $1.18 per $1,000 of assessed valuation sent to voters last year. The goal would be to have an increase in property tax bills of less than 3%, city staff told the council.
Also under discussion Tuesday was whether to also go out for a possible bond to build a new police facility. A cost analysis plan released in 2018 showed that a 52,000-square-foot facility would cost an estimated $31 million, an amount that would likely be closer to $40 million if it went to voters in two years from now. Those amounts involve using property already owned by the city adjacent to the current police station.
However, Toby LaFrance, city finance director, said if plans are to move forward with building a new police station, it could be tied into a current bond renewal effort without increasing taxes.
City Manager Marty Wine told the council the city might need more time to get a bond together by 2020. Meanwhile, city staff is looking at hiring a consultant to get more detailed information on the costs to build a new police station. At the same time, a bond and levy task force is expected to convene soon to take a close look at both the levy and bond proposals.