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Mary Richards and Jed Boal Reporting A group of former and current Salt Lake leaders say they are behind a bond to pay for police and fire department buildings, and they are urging voters to say "yes" to Proposition 1 as well.
But opponents argue the proposition asks too much money for what the city really needs.
The mayor's office says police and firefighters are getting the job done, but resources are stretched to the breaking point.
Opponents admit the city has critical needs, but they think $192 million is over budget.
The people of Salt Lake City may have pride in their police and firefighters, but their building is hardly the pride of the city. Evidence is stacked to the ceiling. There are leaks where sewage came into the building, and the building has outdated plumbing and wiring.
Earlier this month, 911 service went out when a leak messed up the communications equipment.
Salt Lake City Council member Eric Jergensen says, "A 'Yes' vote on Proposition 1 commits us to action now on public safety, rather than just more talk. Everyone agrees we need to do something about these public safety facilities, we just need to do it now."
Former Mayor Jake Garn says inadequate buildings were a problem when he was in office and are still a problem today. So do former Mayor Deedee Corradini and former Police Chief Rick Dinse.
"The ability of the police department to do its job is not just on the ability to walk or drive somewhere or get some place quickly. It is also dependent on how you are able to process and prosecute individuals," Dinse said.
The $192 million bond would pay for a new public safety headquarters for police and fire. A Sugar House police and fire substation; a west side fire station and training center, and an emergency operations center are part of the deal.
The Utah Taxpayers Association calls it a Christmas wish list. Royce Van Tassell says, "Instead of giving the voters a chance to vote on what is really needed, they're asking for far more than voters can afford right now."
Salt Lake City Council member Jill Remington Love says, "Some critics suggest that we have not studied all the alternatives. I'm here to assure you, there has been exhaustive analysis of the needs and potential solutions."
Technicians wear masks when they come in the drug evidence room. There is a leak in the ceiling. Officers say that can compromise the evidence for cases.
City leaders say the bond is not an obligation to spend all of the money, and they will strive to trim the cost. Opponents prefer a cheaper proposition. Van Tassell says, "One hundred ninety-two million dollars is just not the right bond, not now, not yet."
If approved, final design and construction would begin in 2009.
For more information, on Proposition 1, please go to the related link.