Commission weighs options for funding new police and health department

Bismarck Police Department
Bismarck Police Department(kfyr)
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Tuesday night the Bismarck City Commission discussed the implementation of a tax in order to finance the construction of a new police department and public health building.

However, the commission made the decision to send the numbers back to the budget commission with hopes of getting a better understanding of where the money will come from.

During discussion, commissioners agreed construction needs to begin sooner instead of later.

“In this scenario, I think we need to be aggressive and just do it, because if we wait too long it’s just going to cost us more and more. It’s going to be a long time before these bonding rates stay where they’re at,” said Commissioner Greg Zenker.

With uncertainty about the amount of money that will go into the project, commissioners are weighing their options.

“I’m not opposed to buying the property and sitting on it, but I don’t want to start anything, and I know that’s disappointing for the PD,” said Commissioner Nancy Guy.

Police Chief Dave Draovitch says patrol officers are sharing desks, and the evidence room has continually been expanded into metal cages.

“The storage space is the biggest thing, right now, and when I say that it’s mostly for our vehicles, our specialty vehicles, they’re in a different location in town,” said Draovitch.

Classrooms and the personal fitness center are also too small for the growing department.

“It’s decent, but you get two or three people in there and that’s about all who can work out,” said Draovitch.

Draovitch says they’re seeking land or a building they can convert in central Bismarck.

“Obviously a little further North and try to stay within the center of town or where the growth of this city appears to be the center,” said Draovitch.

Other areas of concern include the Public Health Department, who is currently paying rent for the space they’re in.

“Whatever we decide to do with the police department, we have to make sure that Public Health is our first priority in using those construction funds,” said Guy.

The commission is requesting the budget commission look at dollar amounts for construction the only the public health building, and purchasing land for a police department.

If they decide to go ahead with a half-cent sales tax, it must pass in the 2022 election.

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