How the police station funding will affect your wallet

Mar 28, 2017

If voters approve a temporary tax hike to fund the $13.4 million police station budget, homeowners can expect an extra $21 — at least — to be tacked onto their bills.

Director of Budget & Finance Greg Barnes explained that approving the $13,467,706 project cost would mean a $21 tax for every $100,000 your home is worth. The good news… that’s only for the first payment year. As payments are made, that number drops. By year 20, taxpayers would be responsible for $12.78 for every $100,000 their home is worth, said Barnes.

For the $298,500 median-valued home, this equates to $62.68 in taxes the first year, and after 20 years — which is the average span of debt payback, Barnes said — the station would cost taxpayers about $38.16.

At the March 27 Select Board meeting, Police Chief Bob Szala and the advisory committee charged with overseeing the police station design made a final plea to voters to vote ‘yes’ on question one, which would approve the temporary tax hike for the project.

Currently, the 91-person police department functions out of 7,200 square feet of modular units, and five trailers and two sheds that total an additional 1,176 square feet behind the Russells Mills headquarters, said Szala. Personnel moved in 2014, after bacteria in the headquarter’s water system made an officer sick.

The setup promotes space and security issues, as the sheds house the telephone system and radio server, while the trailers house firearms, evidence, and records, said Szala.

The 21,800 square-foot proposal, which would replace the Gidley School on Tucker Road, would be equipped with work spaces that can be reconfigured for more personnel, 3,900 square feet of unused space for expansion, and about 25 more lockers for growing staff needs. The site will also include a foot path around the construction zone to the two ball fields at the back of the property, allowing town leagues to continue utilizing the space.

"The entire facility is designed for the future. Not only in space, but in state-of-the-art systems," said Project Manager Richard Pomroy.

The construction proposal follows a rejected $8.4 million renovation proposal. Voters vetoed the multimillion budget — designed to gut the Russells Mills headquarters of contaminated material, overhaul the building’s floor plan, and add a garage with a training facility — last April.

Project architect Greg Carell explained the budget difference, although he noted that it's like comparing apples and oranges because the costs for a renovation and new construction aren’t comparable.

The new construction job totals $4,545,000 in added costs because of new expenses such as site work, roofing, and a carport, he said.

Barnes said that if the construction project is approved, the debt burden will be lower than it was when the town took on expenses for building the high school in 2012. At that time, taxpayers were billed $71 for a median-valued home, but that expense has dropped annually so that they pay about $37.15 today, he said.

Advisory committee member Lara Stone concluded that the project cannot move forward without voter approval.

"We actually need people to come out and vote on April 4," she said.

Select Board members too voiced their support.

"This is not a funny situation at all. We have never had a building specifically for the police. I support this," said Selectwoman Kelli Martin Taglianetti.

"The little flick [see below] that we just saw was not the future of Dartmouth. We need to vote 'yes' on April 4," said Select Board Chair Stanley Mickelson.


The current, police station suffered water damage after a recent storm. Advisory Committee member attributed the damage to the station's flat roof and temporary conditions. The video was aired at the Select Board meeting. Video courtesy: Dartmouth Police/ Facebook