Sam Penrod, KSL TV, File

$69M bond for new Provo police HQ narrowly passes

By Carter Williams, | Updated - Nov 20th, 2018 @ 9:19pm | Posted - Nov 20th, 2018 @ 12:31pm

PROVO — A $69 million bond to build a new Provo police headquarters and replace an aging fire station officially passed Tuesday, as the final results were certified by the Utah County Commission.

Votes for the bond won with 11,867 in favor (50.9 percent of the vote), as of Tuesday morning, edging votes against by a mere 422 votes in a race that remained too close to call from the get-go.

"Although views differed on what we should do about the situation, I'm grateful that there was nearly universal recognition of the city's needs," Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said in a prepared statement Tuesday afternoon. "I'm grateful that the election results mean we can now address those needs and prepare for Provo City's bright future."

Provo city council members voted unanimously to accept the results of the election Tuesday evening after Provo City Recorder Amanda Ercanbrack went over the final voting results. They also agreed to start the next step in the process at the start of 2019.

They anticipated the new fire station would be completed in 2020 and the new police headquarters would be completed in 2022.

Prior to the vote, Provo Councilman George Stewart thanked Kaufusi, Police Chief Rich Ferguson and Fire Chief Jim Miguel for their efforts promoting the bond in the weeks before the election. All three made public pitches in favor of the bill in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

"It would not have passed without the effort that was put up, particularly by the police and the fire department," Stewart said on Tuesday. "Congratulations, you deserve the win. It was a win for public safety."

Tuesday's 20-minute meeting was nearly all smiles after two weeks of uncertainty for those who supported the bond.

There was a slight edge in favor of the bond passing after election night, but the results flipped three days later when Utah County officials began releasing the first of more than 88,000 ballots that still needed to be counted after the Nov. 6 election. The results had residents opposing the bond leading with 6,735 votes, against 6,681 in favor.

That number flipped again when election officials released the results of another 50,000 votes on Nov. 13. Those results placed residents in favor of the bond ahead 9,188 votes to 9,154 — a difference of just 34 votes. Votes in favor of the bond continued to outpace votes against it after the county released more ballot counts on Friday and Monday.

Tuesday's council meeting to approve the voting results were largely unattended and very few streamed the meeting live. Nevertheless, Councilman David Harding said he wants residents to know the council members take the project seriously.

"We feel a large measure of trust has been placed in us to move this project forward," he said. "We take that seriously. It's humbling and a staggering responsibility that we have. ... We will do our best to the public to provide the best value for their tax money that we will spend on this."

In all, nearly 60 percent of registered voters in the city participated in the election and about 55 percent voted one way or another regarding the bond, according to Ercanbrack. That's an increase from the 40.6 percent voter turnout on the last bond the city proposed, which was in 2010, she added.

Within Utah County, voters also passed a bond for the Nebo School District and another bond allowing Orem to expand and rebuild its Family Fitness Center and Library Hall. Votes for both of those bonds had much wider leads than the Provo bond.

The council also briefly addressed what steps could be taken to reduce voting times after a chaotic Election Day. However, no serious measures were voted on or discussed during the meeting.

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