Vote ‘yes’ on Prop 1

“911, what’s your emergency?”

In 1979 the city of Homer built a new police station for, our then, seven department staff members. Within four years that staff had grown to 12 and the roof was raised to accommodate a second floor, more than doubling the square footage to roughly 5,700. Now, as that original building enters its 40th year of service we have a department of 23 staff, our population has over doubled, and our service area has increased by 30 percent via annexation. These numbers frame a compelling advocacy for a new facility that meets the needs of our police department that has long operated in one that is undersized and is not properly equipped for current policing standards.

Our city council has worked for nearly five years on this project. It remains the top priority on the capital improvement project list. The council has mulled over many approaches to resolving this need. The current plan being presented to voters is the first that has the entire council unified in full support of it. Some wonder why we can’t just fix up and add on to the existing facility at a lower cost. That was an option dismissed by council due to limited space on the lot and the potential of uncovering huge cost drivers when opening up such dated construction. Ultimately, council felt a new location that could accommodate the needs of today, a reasonable future, and ensuring the ability to meet other future needs would be the prudent path forward.

Prop 1 that is now before the voters asks approval of securing up to $5 million in obligation bonds for the construction of a new police station. It also asks to approve an increase to our current tax rate by .35 percent in order to repay the 20 year bond and the increase in operations and maintenance that a larger facility brings. This would equal an additional 35 cents on a $100 purchase. The ballot language includes that .30 percent will be retired from the tax rate once the bond is paid in full. Council worked hard to bring to the voters a project of a sensible size, scope and cost. I believe this is a reasonable ask of our residents.

The good women and men of our police department serve and protect all who reside and visit our beautiful bench here at the shores of Kachemak Bay. They deserve a facility that reflects how our community honors their commitment to that pursuit. I respectfully ask our voters to support Prop 1 on June 26. Early and absentee voting is now ongoing at city hall to accommodate the busy schedules of the season. Spread the word and please bring your voice to the ballot. Let’s vote YES on Prop 1 — it’s time!

“911, what’s your emergency?”

Heath Smith is a lifelong Homer resident.