Idaho Falls City Council expected to vote Tuesday on funding new police station
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IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls City Council is expected to vote Tuesday night on how to fund the city’s first police station.
Based on agendas published Friday, the council will meet during a work session Monday to discuss issuing up to $30 million in Certificates of Participation. The funding option is a lease-financing agreement renewed annually by the city. The council is then scheduled to vote on an ordinance to approve or not approve the funding.
Talks of a new police station have been ongoing for over a decade. In the Idaho Falls Police Department’s 125 year history, officers have never had a place to call their own. In August 2019, a committee of citizens recommended to the council the need to build a police station.
Currently, IFPD occupies 5,670 square feet in Bonneville County’s Law enforcement building, as well as several offices spread through leased and borrowed buildings downtown. Officials have called the situation “less than ideal.”
Over the last year, the city purchased the old stockyards on Northgate Mile and hired an architect to complete initial design work. The city also had financial experts with Zions Bank’s public finance company visit with the council to discuss funding options.
Traditionally cities have funded projects through money already in the bank or through bonds. 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, bringing in investors to fund the project and then lease the building. If at the end of the year the city does 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.
A 2015 Idaho Supreme Court ruling determined a certificate of participation as a legal in the funding of a Greater Boise Auditorium District project.
Certificates of Participation do not come without interest. According to data published in a slideshow included with the agenda, if the city issues $30 million and pays at a 3.25 interest rate over 22-years the total cost will be $42,457,377.
The council plans to close the financing deal on Dec. 23 if they vote yes on Tuesday.
Due to Idaho being moved to COVID-19 stage two in the Idaho Rebounds plan, the city will be taking public comment via email sent to council members and the mayor. Their email addresses can be found here. The meetings will be live-streamed on the city’s website here.