Local News

New Raleigh public safety center could cause tax increase

Posted January 4, 2010

— Raleigh’s new Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center is expected to cost $226 million. Construction on the 17-story facility will take more than two years, and could lead to a tax increase.

"This will make our police and fire departments more efficient, and should there be some big emergency, such as a hurricane or another ice storm, it will put us in a much stronger position than where we are today,” Mayor Charles Meeker said of the new facility.

Meeker is in favor of the 305,000-square-foot safety center, which would replace the current police headquarters on Hargett and McDowell streets. However, some City Council members are raising concerns over the cost.

Council member Bonner Gaylord, who was elected last year to Philip Isley's District E seat, said he doesn't think the old public safety building needs to be torn down.

"The current police headquarters could be saved,” he said.

Gaylord said the city could save nearly $30 million by renovating the current headquarters, and creating new offices elsewhere. He said the plan for the safety center needs more public debate.

"I feel like regardless of the economic climate, the public should have a voice in how its dollars are spent,” Gaylord said.

The slow economy has already delayed construction of the center, and Meeker said he hopes to see work get started this year.

"If we start it later, of course, it will likely cost more and mean larger tax increases down the road,” Meeker said.

Raleigh City Council to discuss public safety center City Council to discuss public safety center

The police headquarters is scheduled to temporarily relocate from its current downtown location to 6719 Six Forks Road while the new public safety center is built in the location. That move is expected to be complete in March.

The new center was designed to meet a "gold standard" of environmental efficiency, including a rooftop system to collect rainwater, a layout that uses sunlight to aid interior lighting and sensors to control lights, heating and air conditioning.

When finished, it will also house the headquarters of the Raleigh Fire Department, the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center, a traffic control center and a data center.

The City Council is expected to talk about funding for the public safety center at Tuesday's meeting, which is open to the public, at the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • nufsaid Jan 5, 2010

    Meeker is out of touch with the citizens of Raleigh. Will he say "let them eat cake" next?

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 5, 2010

    Putting the police department, the fire department, 911, and emergency services in the same building is a big mistake.

    You don't want all of your eggs in one basket.

    Does anybody remember the Oklahoma City bombing.

    If someone blew up the new building in the future, the police department, fire department, 911, and emergency services are out of business.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 5, 2010

    With the people of Raleigh suffering throught high unemployment and high taxes, the last thing that we need is for the city to build a Taj-Mahal resulting in a tax increase.

    The city employees need to take one for the team and continue to work in existing facilities.

  • jrfergerson Jan 5, 2010

    glad I don't live in Wake County - the mayor really knows how to squash the people there. I am sure they could build a building (NOT AS FANCY) for less than what they are doing it for. this time it is pretty pork spending for more from the people to get what they want.

  • Da Toy Maker Jan 5, 2010

    Anyone remember the Ad on the Radio about the increasing cost of the Cable bill "I'd like you to increase my cable bill....". It is to that effect.

    Let's just raise the property tax by 40% and be done with it so we could fund all programs/things now. If one can't afford it, just move away. Raleigh/Wake leaders, would that be better????

  • restless native Jan 5, 2010

    This makes me want to cry. As a single parent with a daughter in college, I can't even afford to buy groceries at my house. I didn't get my annual raise because of the bad economy but my insurance went up so much I had to drop my daughter from the coverage, all my other bills have increased, now they are going to increase my property tax again that just doubled over the last few years? I won't be able to survive another tax increase. Please find another solution!

  • shm Jan 5, 2010

    I say pospone the building for say a yr to give the economy time to become better. Yes it would create jobs in only a couple of areas, mostly construction. People are out of work and another tax is not fair at this time nor prudent. There will always be cost overruns and I don't believe it will be built for what it said.

  • balog Jan 5, 2010

    Let's pray for taxes, the center and public safety.

  • Pisano Jan 5, 2010

    I hate taxes too, but Raleigh's outdated public safety infrastructure can not meet the demands of our growing city. It is more fiscally sound to build now and catch up with the current growth and accommodate further expansion of our public safety needs in the future.

  • Stringbean Jan 5, 2010

    Nice try OpinionOnEverything but thats not the case here.I'm not saying its not needed,I'm just saying not now.My car is 10yr old.It need to be replaced,But i know now is not the right time to spend,spend spend!.Sure there will be a good time but not when you in a hole.As a tax payer i cant do any more.