News : Denver Council Considers Plan for New 911 Center, Auto Shop
Denver, CO, USA, May 11, 2015 -- A proposal to pay for the moves of Denver's 911 dispatch center and fleet services to new buildings is expected to win easy approval Monday from the City Council.
The arrangement would be the latest use of a "lease-purchase" deal in place of traditional borrowing or dipping into reserves. The move allows city officials to raise cash upfront without the need to ask voters to approve debt under the Colorado Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
Such deals have attracted critics, but they have become a popular way for state and local governments to pay for projects.
Under the council proposal, Denver would budget each year for up to 20 years to pay off investors who buy certificates of participation.
As collateral, the city would put three fire stations and the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library into a lease arrangement that could be used to pay off investors if needed.
To meet growing call volume and safety and security requirements, the city plans to move the 911 Communications Center from central Denver to an existing call center it will renovate at 12025 E. 45th Ave.
The Fleet Services Center will move from RiverNorth to make way for riverfront improvements. The new building at 2100 31st St. will accommodate auto repair for police, fire and parking enforcement vehicles, as well as tech services for vehicle radios. The proposed financing would cover most of the $5.8 million cost.
The council gave initial approval last week 11-1.
Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz cast the "no" vote after comparing such deals to "shadow debt" that skirts voters' ability to weigh in. The city should save up for smaller projects, she said.
"This isn't just a little thing," she told her colleagues. "We have substantial (certificates of participation) debt. And it is, folks, debt."
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Other council members and city officials defend the proposal as a prudent way to solve the need to move each building, especially since the city will pay off some previous deals in five or six years.
"Interest rates continue to be extraordinarily low," Councilwoman Robin Kniech said last week. "And so we can either make choices between key infrastructure (projects) in one part of the city and a 911 call center, or we can take advantage of very low interest rates and go ahead and pay through a very, very modest arrangement and get both done at the same time."
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About Denver 911 Dispatch Center:
Denver's 911 Communications Center is staffed by public safety professionals who are trained to answer 911 and non-emergency telephone calls, as well as dispatch police, fire and paramedic resources.
Published: Thursday, May 14, 2015
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