Salt Lake City voters in November will be asked to give the city the go-ahead to borrow about $192 million for new public safety facilities.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of putting on the Nov. 6 ballot a bond issue that would raise property taxes on a $200,000 home by about $114.50 annually to build a handful of new police and fire buildings. Taxes on a $500,000 home would climb by approximately $286.25.

"There's nothing more important to our city than public safety," Councilman Dave Buhler said. He addressed "the sticker shock that some people are feeling" by pointing to the success of other costly bond issues, including a $136 million school bond approved by voters in 1999.

The most expensive piece of the project would be a new five-acre headquarters complex to replace the public safety building at 315 E. 200 South.

The police and fire departments also want to build a new east-side precinct building and an expanded Fire Station 14 in the Glendale neighborhood, at 1560 S. Industrial Road, that would include new fire-training facilities.

The current public-safety building fails to meet the city's fire code. It is plagued by leaky ceilings, a crumbling parking garage, elevators that only work part of the time and insufficient space, police say.

The new headquarters complex would be home to a 126,000-square-foot public safety building and an adjacent 25,000-square-foot emergency operations center.

An emergency operations center would provide a location for critical city business to be carried out in the event of a large-scale emergency. On a daily basis, it would house the city's emergency dispatch and 911 services and the police department's Homeland Security Unit.

The east-side building would be jointly used by police and fire precincts, replacing an aging fire station and boosting police presence east of the Wasatch fault line.

Kirk Huffaker of the Utah Heritage Foundation praised the plan to upgrade the city's safety facilities but encouraged the council to consider renovating the current building on 200 South to "make it gleam again" for another purpose.

"The public safety building has a unique history and architecture that is unmistakable," Huffaker said.

Earlier discussions of the safety-facilities bond have suggested the old building may be sold for redevelopment.


E-mail: dsmeath@desnews.com