Edmond public safety center tax brings in over $41 million
EDMOND — The city collected just over $41 million from the half-cent sales tax that was passed in Oct. 11, 2011, to build the new public safety center in downtown.
The five-year sales tax ended March 31 and Edmond received its final payment from the Oklahoma Tax Commission this month.
Although the project isn't closed out, City Finance Director Warren Porter said, the expenses for the public safety center through May 12 are $37,082,742.
That figure includes the design, materials, furniture, equipment, construction, building demolition, interest expense, bank fees and administrative costs.
"We still have a couple of items to complete," Porter said.
Voters said that any remaining public safety sales tax money should be spent on other capital improvements.
Assistant City Manager Steve Commons estimates there should be about $3.4 million left when all of the public safety center bills are finalized.
"The money will be split equally and placed into the 2000 Capital Tax Fund and the 2017 Capital Tax Fund to pay for capital projects each of those funds have been identified to pay," Commons said. "The public safety center sales tax worked out perfectly for the construction of the public safety center.
"With the inception of the tax starting in April, 2012, we were able to collect a substantial amount of money to pay the early expenses such as the building design as it occurred and then have the funds for the initial construction as it went forward."
Public safety center
The new public safety center is expected to take care of the city's needs for 25 years.
The original bid, approved in August 2013, was for almost $27.5 million to construct the 70,000-square-foot downtown building and a second 15,000-square-foot building at 315 W 33rd St. that houses the crime lab and vehicle and evidence storage.
Groundbreaking for the new complex was held downtown at the construction site on the southeast corner of First Street and Littler Avenue on Aug. 23, 2013.
Officers and staff started moving in the new three-story building with a 38-inmate jail in the basement on Nov. 2, 2015, following a cold and windy dedication ceremony a few days earlier.
The road to get a new public safety center that houses police headquarters, the 911 communication center and emergency management operations was a bumpy one.
Officials planned over eight years before the construction of the new safety center started in 2013.
Edmond voters first turned down a proposed $31.5 million property tax increase in November 2008 to build a new center at the corner of Kelly Avenue and Main Street. Some people didn't like it because the police department wasn't being kept in downtown.
Then-Mayor Patrice Douglas was determined to get a new public safety center, making it her No. 1 capital improvement project.
After months of meetings, council members came up with the plan for five-year half-cent sales tax and a plan to borrow money from the hospital trust fund.
The trust was created from the sale of Edmond Medical Center in 1989. The voters allowed the money to be borrowed and to add a new tax for the public safety center.
Hospital fund repaid
The hospital fund gave city officials money up front to start the construction. The fund has been re-paid $6.88 million and paid in full.
"The hospital trust was repaid and earned a higher interest rate than what we could have earned through our normal fund investments," Commons said. "It was a win-win for saving money on the public safety center and for the hospital trust earning additional interest.
On April 1 a new half-cent sales tax started once the public safety center tax ended. The first payment, just for half a month, was $348,288.
Voters in April 2016 agreed to extend the half-cent sales tax for another 10 years to fund capital improvements. The extension was recommended by a 21-member citizen committee after a 17-week study.
Members of the Capital Improvement Projects Advisory Board have created a rating system to determine which projects should be a priority for the remaining public safety center and new sales tax capital improvement money.
The ratings included items such as public demand, reinvestment of existing capital assets, health, safety and environment, fiscal impact, economic development, synergy and strategic plans.
Their top five projects include improving Covell Road from Coltrane Road to Fairfax, reworking the intersection of Second Street and Bryant Avenue, a joint project with Edmond Public Schools to build a tennis complex, improving downtown lighting and relocating fire station No. 2.