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Albany again asks voters to OK a new fire, police building

ALBANY, Ore. - For the second time in two years, the City of Albany is asking voters to pass a public safety bond measure.

The $24.4 million dollar measure will replace the main fire station downtown and rebuild a new police station.

A similar $20.3 million public safety measure failed by 700 votes in November 2013.

Albany City manager Wes Hare says the May 2015 Public Safety Facility Bond is actually more than $2 million dollars cheaper than the failed 2013 measure.

Here's why: a 'yes' vote authorizes an $18 million bond measure, paid for by property owners.

The rest of the money will come from $1.4 million from the Central Albany Revitalization Area and the balance from funds received from a 2010 settlement with PepsiCo.

According to the City, the public said the bond was defeated because police and fire needs were not well communicated before the vote.

City staff also told the City Council the public was not involved in identifying the needs and the plans for new buildings were not available prior to the vote.

After hearing those concerns, City Council formed a 14-person review committee.

The Public Safety Facilities Review Committee spent 6 months in 2014 studying the needs of both departments.

The committee found that both buildings, Fire Station 11 and police headquarters on SE Jackson Street, need to be replaced.

Hare said the City Council is asking voters to consider funding these facilities now while interest rates are historically low.

According to the City, new bonds would generally coincide with pending payoff of older general obligation bonds, issued in 1996 and 1999.

With the payoff of those bonds and a recent upgrade in Albany's bond rating, new police and fire station bonds will be levied at 29 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value.

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