Greenwood voters on December 10th overwhelmingly approved a quarter-cent tax to fund a new police station.
Unofficial but final results show the tax passed in a 213-74 vote. Early voters cast 140 ballots, favoring the tax by a 97-43 margin. The results remain unofficial until they are certified.
The Greenwood Police Department, with a force of 20 officers, operates out of a 1,000-square-foot room in the back of City Hall. The department requires a building with at least 14,000 square feet based on a needs assessment, Police Chief Will Dawson said in July. The new site of the station will be at the 5,000-square-foot old Post Office building in the center of town.
Dawson expressed relief at the prospect of the new station and thanked the voters for supporting the tax.
"It is humbling that people went out and supported it and I think it speaks of the support we have and of the job we are doing," Dawson said.
The tax, which the Greenwood City Council unanimously approved to put on the ballot at its October meeting, will sunset in 20 years.
The city will receive approximately $2.8 million from a bond on the new tax to use for the acquisition of property and the construction of the new police department as well as for equipment for facilities. The annual bond payment is approximated at around $220,000 while the 1/4 cent sales tax could generate around $270,000. Any extra money generated by the tax will go toward paying off the bonds early. This will also serve to lower the annual payment and could cause the tax to sunset well short of 20 years. Once the bonds are paid off, the tax will cease.
Chief Dawson has several locations in mind for the new police station. The first one on his list is the old Post Office building on Old Hackett Road in the center of town. "We have a plan B and a plan C, but the old postal building is our first choice. I just hope we can get a fair price on it," Chief Dawson explained. Dawson has been granted the authority to negotiate a price on behalf of the city and then go back in front of the City Council for approval. Dawson planned to open with a $270,000 offer. This offer is lower than the asking price, but the building is in disrepair
If the old Post Office becomes the new police station, there will be many things to accomplish before construction can begin, according to Michael Lejong with MAHD Architecture. "I would estimate 4 to 6 months of design time to complete surveys and geo-technical testing, plus civil, structural, electrical and mechanical engineering for the building," Lejong explains. "If the site work is limited, as we are anticipating with the old Post Office site, I believe it will take approximately 10-12 months to renovate the existing building and complete construction of the new addition for the new Police Station."