DOLA grants $650k for dispatch, police station
City Council approves money from reserves to cover shortfall
Originally published 2013-05-02
The question of exactly how a new, combined dispatch and police department facility in the City of Gunnison will be funded appears to be answered.
City Council approved allocating $100,000 from cash reserves last week after representatives from Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) indicated their willingness to chip in $650,000 toward the project.
City leaders previously applied for a $750,000 DOLA grant to cover about half the cost of the building.
City Manager Ken Coleman said that when notified verbally of the grant funding last week, the question was posed: If DOLA contributes $100,000 less than was requested, how would the city respond?
If the scope of the project were reduced, it’s likely that the city would receive even less than $650,000 from DOLA, he said. As a result, city staff recommended that council approve covering the $100,000 shortfall.
“We would like to request that the city provide the extra funding to make the project whole,” he explained. “We feel like the project is a viable and valuable asset to our community, will resolve some real issues with the workplace environment and create the type of facility that’s needed to combine our dispatch and police services.”
Council agreed, voting unanimously to approve the expenditure. Councilor Bill Nesbitt was not present for the meeting.
Tuesday marked the current council’s last regular session prior to the May 14 municipal election — for which four of five seats are up for grabs.
“I was hoping that it would be this council that would act,” Coleman said of the question of spending reserve money to guarantee the planned scope of the project.
He noted that the city does attempt to maintain a cash reserve equal to or above 33 percent of general fund expenditures. And currently the city has about $1 million above that amount in reserves — meaning that the $100,000 expenditure could be easily accommodated, he said.
Council opted last August to combine previous plans for a new communications, or dispatch, center with a vision for a new police headquarters. That was after realizing that the entire project could likely be funded in large part through a state grant.
DOLA funds public projects throughout Colorado with energy impact assistance grants — revenue which comes from resource extraction companies.
The city purchased property at the corner of Bidwell Avenue and South Ninth Street in May of last year as the new home for the communications center, which provides emergency dispatch services for Gunnison and Hinsdale counties.
The city acts as a fiscal agent for dispatch, and controls the purse strings for the center’s operations through the communications fund — an enterprise fund within the city budget, which receives money from emergency response agencies throughout the county.
City leaders for years had sought a site to relocate dispatch, which is currently housed in the basement of the County Courthouse.
The vacant lot cost the city about $200,000, which was paid out of the general fund.
It’s anticipated that the price tag of the 6,500-square-foot building (and necessary equipment) will be about $1.5 million. With council’s contribution of money from reserves, the city is ponying up a total of $225,000 from the general fund this year, which is being combined with $180,000 from communications fund reserves. More than $400,000 additionally is planned to be spent by the Gunnison/Hinsdale Combined Emergency Telephone Service Authority to outfit the building with equipment.
Coleman said that the project’s time line is contingent upon a contract with the state solidifying the DOLA grant, though the selection of a contractor is anticipated by the end of June. Construction is expected to span about six months.
The DOLA funding will require that the building be constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, he said.
(Will Shoemaker can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)