The Missoula City Council was briefed Wednesday on a “Plan B” in case a proposed special tax district that would benefit the Missoula Police Department fails.
Officials say the police department is in need of a new $5.2 million training and evidence storage building.
The department currently stores evidence at police headquarters at City Hall. Department officials say the space is so cramped that they're worried about evidence being damaged or lost.
The department also hopes to include training facilities in the new building. We're told the currently site consists of just one classroom.
"(The classroom) doesn't hold the capacity that we would desire, and it doesn't give us the ability for a wide range of training opportunities that we might desire,” said Public Information Officer Travis Welsh. “The newer facility would allow us more flexibility in what we can bring in and the types of training that we can actually do."
The city council passed a resolution in March that moved forward the creation of a new Public Safety and Just District.
The district would be used to fund the police evidence and training building, as well as a ladder truck and engine for the fire department.
The special tax district is currently in a protest period. If owners representing 10 percent of taxable property in the district file a protest, the proposal will go to a vote in November, and if more than 50 percent is protested, the tax district is killed. The protest period ends on June 20.
Councilors were briefed Wednesday on another option to pay for the new police building.
Officials would pull money from the capital improvement program, which is how the city typically funds large infrastructure projects.
City Councilman Adam Hertz says he would prefer this method of funding for the police department, even though it might push back other projects.
“Is there money in there now? Yes, there is. This item would probably have to kick a couple other items further down the road, but I think it could be funded if the special district is not approved, at least for the police evidence storage facility," Hertz said.