May 2017 Police Facility Bond Frequently Asked Questions

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​Please refer to the questions and answers below to find out more information about the proposed facility and Council’s direction thus far.

For more background and public information related to Salem’s proposed police facility, please visit the Police Facility Site.

Conceptual rendering of proposed police facility

Why is the proposed police facility the option preferred by the Salem City Council?

The Salem Police Department occupies the first floor of the Salem Civic Center and there is not enough space for the police department to conduct business efficiently or safely. The Civic Center was built in 1972 when the population of Salem was about 72,500 people. The current police facility is not designed to meet the needs of Salem’s current population of over 160,000 people. It is also not designed to meet the needs of a modern police department.

The current building was built before scientists discovered that a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake could impact our region. A new facility will also allow the police department to operate more efficiently by bringing together many important police functions that are located off-site in separate and leased buildings. It would also allow the City to securely store Bomb Team and S.W.A.T vehicles at the police station, rather than locations around the City.

If passed, how much would this cost me?

If the May 2017 bond passes, property owners will see an estimated tax increase of 26 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a typical $200,000 house would pay $4.33 a month. 

Use this tool to estimate your cost.

Why is the seismic upgrade of the City Library not included?

The Salem City Council recognizes the critical need to seismically upgrade the City Library. Council is seeking funding for seismic upgrades to the Library on the November 2017 ballot. In February 2017, City Council held a work session and unanimously decided to split the Library upgrades from the police facility. This maintains that the Library upgrades and police facility funding as two separate issues. By keeping the issues separate, residents will be able to express their opinion on the bonds as individual items rather than a bundled package.

During the work session discussion Mayor B​enne​t​t said, “I hope there is a real understanding that no matter what happens with the police facility, the Library is going out in November.”​

Why doesn’t the City move to precincts?

The Salem Police Department is open 24/7 to serve people who need help. A single, fully-staffed facility allows department staff to:

  • Cover the front counter
  • Confirm warrants
  • Clear stolen cars from the computer systems
  • Enter arrest data
  • Answer public records requests
  • Cover employee breaks.

Precincts are used in large cities when they need additional space, and the size of the city requires it. The only city in Oregon with precincts is Portland. Despite having almost 1,000 police officers, the Portland Police Department has closed two precincts in recent years. For comparison, Salem has 190 officers and would have a difficult time maintaining all of the necessary functions if the City moved to a system of precincts.

What experience does Salem have managing large projects and how would the public’s financial interests be protected?

The City has a solid track record of accountability and stewardship when implementing bond funded programs. The City carefully manages its programs to ensure they stay within budget and meet community needs. For example, the City was able to purchase more equipment and make upgrades to fire stations with savings from the 2006 Fire Bond, and more than 20 additional projects were accomplished with savings from the 2008 Streets and Bridges Bond.

Why is a contingency included in the proposed project?

A contingency is included in all major City projects as a protection from unexpected cost increases that come up during the design and construction process. Some examples are sudden material price increases, the discovery of environmental contamination, and poor soil conditions.

The contingency included in this proposed project is less than what the City would usually have for a project that has not been designed.

How is this proposed facility different than the one that residents voted against in November 2016?

After the $82 million police facility bond failed in November 2016, the City looked for ways to reduce the cost of building a new police facility. Options included reducing parking and growth estimates for the department, and removing the 911 call center from construction plans.

In February 2017, Salem City Council voted to put a $61.8 million bond on the May 2017 ballot. The $20.2 million overall reduction is 25 percent less than the original $82 million cost of the 2016 bond. If the May 2017 bond passes, experienced engineering staff will oversee construction. This new police facility is expected to meet the needs of the community for decades to come.

Why does this proposal cost more than the police facility by the City of Beaverton?

The City of Beaverton doesn’t have many of the police operations or responsibilities required by the City of Salem. For comparison, Salem has a S.W.A.T team and bomb squad with specialized equipment that must be housed in City facilities. The City also has its own crime lab which reduces how long it takes to analyze evidence by several months when compared to using the Oregon State Police crime lab. Building a crime lab in the new facility instead of maintaining a rented facility off-site is expected to save the Salem Police Department money, as well as keep evidence safer.

Construction cost can also vary because of special challenges and limitations at the construction site. The building site for the Salem facility presents different challenges than the site for the Beaverton facility.

What are the next steps?

Voters approved the bond in the May 2017 election. The City has issued requests for proposals for both an Architect and an Owner's Representative consultants and is finalizing the purchase of the site.  Permitting for the project will be underway at the end 2017 and into early 2018.  In Fall of 2018, the City expects to issue an RFP for construction.  Construction should be underway at the site by early 2019 with the Police Department moving in by the end of 2020.​

City Council unanimously voted to put the Library on the November 2017 ballot. If voters approve the bond, work would immediately begin on design and engineering. Construction would follow soon afterwards.


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