Bastrop News

Police Dept. expansion ‘critical’

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By Terry Hagerty

The city wants to address its deteriorating streets, but also ensure that  plans for expansion of the police department gets underway, City Manager Mike Talbot said during a regular meeting of the Bastrop city Council on Tuesday.

Talbot said the city needs to complete the  upgrade of the police department to include adding a 911 call-center, “building out” the remaining unfinished 3,900 sq. ft. of the building, and expanding parking. (Currently, Bastrop Police receive their radio-dispatched calls from the Sheriff’s Office/Jail complex on Jackson Street.) Talbot verbally complimented Chief Steve Adcock and his department on budget belt-tightening, but also added it was time to pay the piper – so to speak.

“I feel strongly about the Police Department station” getting funding for needed improvements, Talbot told the Council. He termed both police and street upgrades as paramount “public safety” needs. He said the city was “stepping up to be a ‘big-boy’ city” on a host of projects.

Talbot presented the Council two options – involving streets and police  – under the headline of Critical Needs Options that would be funded through certificates of obligations. C.O.’s – as they are commonly termed – are “incurred debt” that a city (and city taxpayers ) acquire, which does not require voter approval through a bond election. The Council and Talbot had been discussing a possible bond election in November for a host of city projects, but have likely delayed seeking that course of action until a Comprehensive Plan (of city needs/future goals) is finished in early 2016. Going the route of C.O’s would allow the city to act sooner – especially if a bond election were to fail – both Council and Talbot have concurred.

‘Streets’ and ‘police’ costs

Option I, for $3 million, would involve the reconstruction of major portions three streets – including, in some instances, water and wastewater pipes. MLK, Water and Laurel are the three streets. MLK would be rebuilt as a concrete street; Water and Laurel would be paved with asphalt. The cost for each of the three would be: MLK ($2 million); Water ($250,000); and Laurel ($750,000).

Option II, for approximately $2.76 million, would contain the same work for MLK and Water streets (and drop out Laurel for now), substituting $505,000 for improvements to the Police Department building. That cost was originally estimated at $595,000, but was dropped down to $505,00 from $90,000 the city accumulated through its “Red-Light” (traffic light) Fund.

Mayor Ken Kesselus considered the costs that were discussed Tuesday, but also seemed to be reflecting over discussions by the Council over the course of the past year, for a host of major city projects. Almost as if talking to himself about the accumulating price tags, Kesselus commented, “It costs so much to do something right – we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars…to get it all right.”

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