I’m sure by now you’ve heard the news that Kent voters passed the income tax increase for the new police station. That’s a huge relief and I want to thank the voters for rallying behind public safety and giving us the chance to make sure the Kent Police Department will be equipped to serve the Kent community for decades to come.
Before the moment passes, I want to extend my gratitude to Police Chief Michelle Lee, Public Service Director Gene Roberts, Finance Director Dave Coffee and everyone on my staff that took on a leadership role to explain the issue and describe it’s importance to this community. There was a lot to explain and many good questions were asked. It was rewarding to work alongside such dedicated professionals to listen and answer them.
Thank you to the members of the Kent Police Department that took time to open their doors and invite the community in to see the issues of the building up-close and personal. And thank you to the Police staff that participated in the Citizen’s Academy which gave residents a chance to learn how our Police Officers perform their duty and see how the 89 year old building limits their ability to be as effective in their work as they strive to be. The Citizen Academy graduates have praised the professionalism of the Kent Police Department and they have become some of the Department’s strongest supporters.
Thank you as well to all of the City employees that took the time to learn the details about Issue 4 so that they were ready to answer when a neighbor, customer or friend casually asked what it was all about. The one thing we’ve learned is that every vote counts so thank you for helping those residents understand the challenges we face in the current building. They listened and I am very grateful for their support.
Getting support for a tax increase in this difficult economy is remarkable and it carries a heavy responsibility for us to get this new building done right. I’m confident we’ll get there but there’s lots of work that stands in front of us before we’re cutting ribbons on a new building. There’s likely to be many twists and turns as the project develops but I know we’ve got the ability to live up to the trust that’s been invested in us.
The next step is for the City to secure the location. Once completed, we’ll choose an architect and work with them to engineer a facility that best meets the needs of the Police Department and the community that they serve. Assuming things go moderately smoothly, we’re likely 12-16 months out before anyone would see much action going on at the site but rest assured that between lawyers, surveyors, realtors, architects, engineers and contractors there’s a lot of work that will be underway to queue this thing up for construction sometime in 2015. Until then, I’ll do my best to keep this on track and keep you informed.
Lastly, I want thank the members of City Council for believing that this issue was too important to pass off to the next generation of City Council to act on. We recognize the political risks associated with suggesting a tax increase of any kind and despite the fact that Council members had the most to lose, they stood behind the issue and gave the voters the chance to decide. That’s what leadership is all about and Kent is better because of it.
Thank you again to all the voters of Kent.