Coral Springs voters are expected to vote on a bond referendum in March next year, seeking approval for $18.1 million in general obligation bonds to fund several public safety projects.
If approved by the voters, the money will be used for the construction of a new West Side Complex, which houses the Public Works vehicle fleet; the addition of a parking garage on that site; the construction of a new Police Department humane unit; the expansion of the city’s Fire Academy; and the purchase of a new public safety command vehicle.
The additional annual burden on the average single-family homeowner in the city would be $34. The annual debt service would be about $1.5 million, according to Finance Director Melissa Heller.
This comes less than two years after the City Commission approved a $12.45 million public safety bond referendum in the 2104 elections.
Three of the four city officials present — Mayor Skip Campbell was absent — were in favor of putting the issue on the ballot for the March 15 election. The City Commission will make an official decision on the issue at a meeting next month. Some of the projects on the list will be dropped if the Commission so wishes.
The design and construction of the West Side Complex is expected to cost $11.1 million, while the cost of the parking garage is $1.6 million. The Fire Academy project, which includes expansion of the building and the parking area, is estimated to cost $4 million. The public safety command vehicle will cost $950,000, while the cost of construction of a new humane unit is $350,000.
The eastern side of the West Side Complex was built in the 1970s, while the western side was constructed in 1997. “Both sides do not meet the current building code,” said Public Works Director Rich Michaud. “The facilities are beyond their useful lives and cannot be occupied by staff during a hurricane.”
The three staff members of the humane unit now have to work out of a single room. There is no space to humanely euthanize animals, while the area housing the dogs are not air conditioned or heated.
The city had looked at retrofitting the humane unit, but decided against doing so, Police Chief Tony Pustizzi said. “It is cheaper to raze it and build something new. The public safety command vehicle looks better than the humane unit but does not do any better; it breaks down at least once a month. It is functionally obsolete and not salvageable.”
The Fire Academy has grown annually at an average of 22.5 percent since 2011; the facility currently does not have adequate classroom space or parking, according to fire department staff.
Vice Mayor Larry Vignola, Commissioner Dan Daley and Commissioner Lou Cimaglia were in favor of the referendum. Commissioner Joy Carter said she was concerned about residents having to bear the additional burden.
“I understand cost issues,” Vignola said. “These projects have been knocked down the road for many years. These are issues that have to be taken care of right away.”
“We had a tough time excluding these projects the last time,” said Daley. “The humane unit is just disgraceful; I wouldn’t want anyone to work there any longer. Yes, it is a tough decision, but when all said and done, it is between $30 and $40 per household.”
“We absolutely need all of this,” Commissioner Lou Cimaglia said. “We will get all of this done at an additional cost of $34 per household. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be doing this.”
After discussions with city officials, staff will present the final project list and ballot question at the Oct. 21 City Commission meeting. The Commission will consider a resolution authorizing the referendum at its meeting on Nov. 18.