CLAREMONT, Calif. — City leaders have finally decided how to fund a much-needed new police headquarters.
The council voted to take a $25 million general obligation bond to the voters on the June 2018 ballot.
The city's future police station envisions a two-story, 25,000-square-foot facility on the current site. It will have a $25 million budget, about half the cost of a previous proposal.
The current headquarters, a more than 40-year-old building at 570 W. Bonita Ave., is no longer adequate to meet the department's needs.
The council voted 4-1 last month to take the bond to the voters.
"We've had two experiences in this town where we had a parcel tax and they both failed," said Councilman Corey Calaycay.
He also favored holding the election in June rather than November because it's "going to be a less active election period. There will not be any council election or school board elections and other initiatives."
A general obligation bond will exempt nonprofits and the Claremont Colleges, but the colleges have made a pledge to give $1 million, said Mayor Larry Schroeder.
Councilman Opanyi Nasiali cast the lone vote in opposition to the June 5, 2018, ballot measure, telling council members he would prefer to see it go to the voters in November, to give a citizens committee — that would be championing it — some time to campaign.
"We rushed into it last time and we didn't have enough time to explain to the community what we were doing," he said. "The result was the community was saying no, I don't want to do that again."
Nasiali said he would reluctantly support a parcel tax but was opposed to a general bond.
In typical Claremont fashion, sometimes a loss is a big win, said Councilman Sam Pedroza.
He's referring to the Measure PS which would have provided up to $50 million for a new police station, to be paid off through an annual parcel tax of $286 for the next 40 years.
After voters rejected a tax measure in 2015 that would have funded a new police station, city leaders were in a tough spot.
"When we were first talking about the police station, we didn't know if the residents were going to come out in support of the concept to begin with," Pedroza said.
Then-mayor Corey Calaycay formed the Police Ad Hoc Committee to provide the council with suggestions on how Claremont could come up with the funding for a new police station.
Seeking public input on the funding options, Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen said the committee held four community meetings in 2017, two of which included tours of the current police department.
In all, 45 residents attended the community meetings, she said.
At the presentations, attendees were asked to fill out a questionnaire about the proposed facility and financing mechanism. That same questionnaire was also available on the city's website, but only 41 responses were received, Vander Veen said.
"Based on the limited responses to the questionnaire and participation from the community meetings, staff is unable to provide a recommendation as to which financing mechanism is preferred by the residents," she told the council at the December meeting.
But the public feedback did pay off, Pedroza said. It was through the committee and public meetings, Pedroza said, that the council learned what type of project the public would support.
If this measure were to fail, Ramos said staff will have to come back to the council with options about what needs to improve at the current station or if the council will want to go out to the voters for a third time.