ARLINGTON – The City Council passed a resolution Monday to move forward with a proposed $8.2 million capital projects bond issue to finance a new fire station in Smokey Point and a police impound facility.
The clock is ticking for both facilities. They are in leased space they will need to vacate by 2021.
The “councilmanic” bonds, which mean paid from existing revenue sources and voted on by the City Council, would also fund a new secure Maintenance and Operations building at 6205 188th Place NE, consolidate a new police impound building on the grounds, and refinance the Graaftstra property loan.
Council members spent four hours talking about the bond issue at their Spring retreat
City officials analyzed the entire package within Arlington’s conservative 10-year financial plan.
“What we came up with is we have the ability to pay this back without increasing anything to the taxpayers,” city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.
The bond sale wouldn’t happen until the first quarter of 2020. However, the resolution sets the wheels in motion for staff to move forward with facility design and permitting, demolition, preparing construction bids, and negotiating with the airport to lease the new fire station site.
The city would use $300,000 cash from uncommitted construction sales tax revenues to cover those costs.
The most pressing needs are Station 48, sharing space in a warehouse at 18824 Smokey Point Blvd., and the police impound facility in Arlington’s industrial area that also under lease. The city pays $3,252 a month for the fire station, and $1,134 monthly for the impound lot.
Proceeds from the bond sale would construct a new $3.3 million Station 48 in the 18000 block of Airport Boulevard and incorporate Station 47 on the airport’s east side into the same building, which provides administration and a basic life support unit for the fire department.
“The advantages to this site is it’s shovel ready, you’ve got utilities in the ground nearby, and it allows us to combine the two stations,” Banfield said.
The city will save some money and time on Station 48 design because they have previous plans to draw from that were to be used to site a firehouse on 172nd that didn’t happen when the recession in 2008 stalled all facilities construction.
“The economy did not cooperate, so we put all facility plans on hold while we focused more on maintaining services at existing levels,” Banfield said.
City officials have known for some time that a permanent station would be necessary to serve Smokey Point, in part due to changes in fire and EMS service delivery related to agreements in the 2010 Central Marysville Annexation.
Banfield said the location will provide for more balanced response throughout the city, including Smokey Point, the airport, High Clover neighborhood just north of the airport, and neighborhoods along 172nd St. NE. A groundbreaking could happen next April.
The bond would also spend $2 million to build a new Maintenance and Operations building on the current site at 6205 188th Place NE, and establish a new police impound building and lot within the same campus, with robust security, drainage, paving and other improvements.
The maintenance and operations buildings are holdovers from the 1940s when the airport served as an Navy auxiliary air station.
“Our M and O building is definitely an aging facility,” along with the dilapidated pole building and other smaller facilities on site, Banfield said.
“The cost to repair them and meet all the building codes and standards they would have to meet today far exceeds what it would cost to build a new building and demolish the other,” she said.
The city would construct one new office building for personnel, a second building for impoundment, and use the old shop for storage.
Lastly, bond sale dollars would also be used to refinance the Graafstra property loan. By consolidating the $3.2 million in debt, city officials said they can save $500,000 – between $26,000 and $32,000 per year – over the life of the 20-year loan thanks to an upgraded bond rating for Arlington last year that means lower interest rates on borrowing.
The Graafstra property is the city’s 150 acres of open space in northeast Arlington along a tight-looped bend in the south fork of the Stillaguamish River. The lowland property could someday provide an off-leash dog park, camping, swimming and fishing, while the uplands host the Graafstra – Country Charm Recreation area.
State law dictates debt limits on how much a city can borrow, equal to 2.5% of assessed property valuation. Arlington’s current debt of .6% of assessed value, considered low for a city, would rise to 7% if the bonds are approved.