KALAMA — Despite continued public pushback, the Kalama City Council Wednesday adopted a financing plan to build a new police station at Maruhn Park.
The vote was 3-1, with Councilman Mike Truesdell casting the lone no vote. Councilman Mike Langham abstained, but he did not explain why.
Citizens again objected to the location and the funding plan, which includes an increase in the city utility tax and a hike in car tab fees. Both those proposals will be subject to a public hearing.
This is going to hurt a lot of people...and I know several of them,” one woman said, asking the council to provide an avenue for such individuals to pay less. “This is going to make or break them.”
“What I’m hearing,” Truesdell said, “is people don’t want to pay the tax.”
In response, many in the standing-room only audience shouted “No!”
“We don’t want it at the park! We love our police, we want them here… and we don’t mind giving them our money. I am okay with it hurting me for something I choose, for something I get a voice on,” one woman said.
“I believe you as a City Council are not representing your constituents,” Christina Day-Connelly added.
Several audience members suggested splitting the decision so that the council would only discuss funding and at a later meeting return to the proposed location at Maruhn Park, which is on the far north end of the downtown area.
“Let’s get the location out of the equation right now,” citizen Jack Eby urged.
Mayor Mike Reuter also asked the council to separate the two issues, but the council declined.
Several speakers asked Reuter to veto the council’s decision, but the city attorney said the mayor only had veto power over new ordinances.
After the vote, several members of the public vowed to mount efforts to try to recall some of the council members.
The city is seeking to build a new police station to replace the one flooded by the December 2015. The agency has been housed in the Kalama Community Building since then, but the building has many inadequacies as a police headquarters.
The funding proposal for the $3 million station includes a public safety sales tax, a utility tax, and reallocating street funds to free up money in the general fund. Officials are looking for a way to fund the station since voters in November rejected a construction bond for the project.