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Idaho Falls exploring financing options for new police station

Idaho Falls

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The only visible indication of the Idaho Falls Police Department’s location is inside the Law Enforcement Building in downtown Idaho Falls. | file photo

IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Falls is employing the help of financial experts to explore financing options for a new police station.

At a city council meeting on Sept. 26, City Councilman John Radford, the liaison to municipal services, presented a professional services agreement with Zions Public Finance, a business owned by Zion’s Bank that assists in financial advice to cities. The city council unanimously approved the agreement.

“We hire them to give us professional advice. They’re not there to give any other self-serving advice but instead give us advice that is in our best interest,” Mayor Rebecca Casper said. “Between them being a fiduciary and us having an out-clause, I think we have a pretty good agreement.”

The agreement allows Zions Public Finance to look at all city financing options including traditional bonding and annual appropriation certificate of participation. The City council met with Christian Anderson, Vice President of Zions Public Finance, on Aug. 23 during a work session to learn more about these options.

“Certificates of participation in the bond world is really a fancy catch-all for something you don’t have a better name for,” Anderson said.

Bonding is a debt the city incurs by a two-thirds supermajority vote of the citizens. The money borrowed through a bond is paid back through property taxes.

Certificates of participation work differently than bonds, as the issue wouldn’t appear on a ballot, allowing the city to use the funds earlier than bonding. A certificate of participation is a lease-financing agreement renewed annually by the city. If the city did not renew the lease, the property and building would go back to the investors while they recoup the cost. Once the lease is paid off the property’s ownership then transfers to the city.

RELATED: Idaho Falls Police Department one step closer to getting its first police station

As the city moves forward with financing options, they are responsible for filing fees and fees attached to the bonded money but the city or Zions can back out.

“There is an out-clause that I think is very important,” said Councilman Jim Frances. “It gives us a way to still have options in front of us as we go forward.”

The agreement details the “out-clause” as allowing both the City and Zions to terminate the agreement “at anytime, for any reason” with sixty days notice.

The Idaho Falls Police Department has not announced any formal plans of building a new police station, including a site location. However, on Sept. 12, city council signed off on a $675,000 purchase of the Northgate Mile Stockyard, pending an inspection. Use of the acquired property is yet to be determined, but City spokesman Bud Cranor said last month the purchased property could possibly serve as the site of the new police station.

RELATED: Idaho Falls signs off on $675,000 purchase of Northgate Mile stockyard, pending inspection