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New Albany council approves funding plan for new police headquarters

New Albany City Council members speak in their City Hall chamber
Aprile Rickert
New Albany council member Josh Turner was one of two members who voted to wait on moving forward with funding for a new police station.

The New Albany City Council has approved funding and lease plans for a new standalone police headquarters, despite some members pushing to delay the decision.

At its regular meeting Thursday, the council voted 6-2 to pass a third and final reading of an ordinance allowing the city to enter into a lease agreement with the New Albany Building Corporation — an entity set up to assist in finance and construction of public or city facilities.

The estimated $12.6 million facility will be in the 200 block of West Spring Street, near the current police headquarters in the Floyd County-owned Frank C. Denzinger Criminal Justice Center.

A third of the funds — or around $4 million — for upfront and construction costs will be split between American Rescue Plan funds and the city’s general fund. The remaining $8.6 million will come from bonds.

Rent will be finalized after negotiations between the city and banks, but it is expected not to exceed $825,000 annually.

A portion of the funding will come from the New Albany sewer utility, through a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, program which funnels into the city’s general fund. New Albany City Attorney Shane Gibson said in an email to LPM News the PILOT money only accounts for about 3% of the general fund.

Dozens of New Albany police officers attended the meeting, along with Chief Todd Bailey who called the council approval “a victory for the entire community.”

“The citizens deserve a standalone facility for their police to operate out of,” he said following the meeting. “And as the department head for that department, this will help me better facilitate recruiting, training, retention … all the things that are important in a world that doesn't have people banging down the door to become police officers.”

Council members Josh Turner and Scott Blair moved to table the vote and, when that failed, voted against the ordinance. They said that although they believe the city needs an improved facility, they don’t feel enough was done to seek out alternatives to building a new station at the chosen location.

“I'm disappointed because I think we zeroed in on one project, and it's a very expensive project,” Blair said following the meeting. “And there's other ways to provide good facilities for our police department.”

Turner said moving forward with this project now would be at “one of the worst times to purchase new properties, and building and construction.”

“There’s nothing wrong with delaying a little bit longer,” he said. “We have got to be careful with how we spend our money to get the most bang for our buck. If we do it now, we're not going to get the most bang for our buck.”

Council member Adam Dickey said the project has been in discussion for some time, and that if the project were delayed, “... all that will come of that is that we will not have this facility, and we will run out of time to make the decisions that need to be made.”

“The staff has done an excellent job of looking at alternatives, cost analyses, location analyses ... which assures that we will not have a tax increase, or a rate increase of any sort, and still are able to finance and provide for a quality facility for our police officers and for public safety in the city,” Dickey said.

The next steps include the New Albany Building Corporation securing bonds and other needs to finance the new facility.

Construction is expected to begin in spring.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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