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Burlington Voters to Decide on New Police Station

Voters will decide Nov. 3 if Burlington should borrow $4-million to purchase and renovate the former bank into a police station.

The clock is ticking for city leaders in Burlington to convince residents that it's a good idea to borrow money for a new police station.  The $4 million bond referendum will appear on the Nov. 3 municipal election ballot.
Mayor Shane McCampbell called this an opportunity for residents to take further ownership in their city.

"Right now, we are just trying to build a consensus with the citizens and inform them so that they have all the information," said McCampbell. "So that they recognize that we have $0.25 and it's going to cost $1.00 to remodel and purchase it. It's better to pay $1.00 today than $3.00 tomorrow so we are just trying to get that message out."

McCampbell used that analogy because the cost to purchase and renovate the former downtown U.S. Bank building might top out at $4 million, compared to a brand-new police station possibly costing three times as much.

McCampbell said the city does not have the resources to simply buy the former bank. But he said that cannot deter the city from addressing the need for a new police station, given the condition of the current facility, which will require about $700,000 worth of work just to stabilize some structural problems.

Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR
Burlington's current police station has a variety of structural issues including a wall in the basement that is bulging.

"The building that they have been in was supposed to be a temporary solution," said McCampbell. "They were only supposed to be there 5-10 years. They have been there 20 years.  We've got a building where one of the walls is starting to bulge so bad, we don't know how much time with this building until it is repaired."

McCampbell said the proposed new location offers security and accessibility features that a police station should have -- features lacking at the current building. He hoped residents are not turned off by the maximum price tag of $4 million.

"We wanted to make sure, with the bond issue, that we had a cap in place so that the citizens knew that, regardless, if everything went bad, if the plumbers got to arguing with the electricians and everything went bad, that would be the maximum," said McCampbell. "I, and others, believe we can get this building done for closer to $3 million to $3.5 million."

Des Moines County currently leases space in the building for the Attorney's office. McCampbell hoped that would continue if the city buys the building, along with the relocation of the county's emergency dispatch center.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.