Mayor Ed Murray today announced the funding strategy for the new Seattle Police Department North Precinct, slated to break ground in 2017 and open for business in 2019. The mayor will propose no new taxes to pay for the project.
“Because of our vibrant local economy and vigorous real estate sales, we can construct our new North Precinct within existing and projected resources,” said Murray. “While we do have other public safety infrastructure projects on the horizon, there is no need to send a public safety levy to the ballot in near future.”
Seattle continues to collect large receipts in the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) from the sales of residential and commercial properties, which can only be used to pay for City capital projects, including transportation infrastructure, Parks buildings and public safety facilities.
Due to projected ongoing strength of REET receipts, the mayor will not propose a public safety levy in 2016 or 2017.
To date, $21 million has been appropriated toward the $160 million precinct project, which will be located at Aurora Avenue North and North 130th Street. The mayor is proposing to fund the remaining $139 million through a combination of REET receipts, 30-year bonds financed by future REET receipts, and the one-time sale of other City assets.
The new North Precinct will accommodate future growth in the Seattle Police Department and replaces the existing North Precinct facility at 10049 College Way North, which is seriously over-crowded. Expansion at the current site is not possible and the existing building constructed in 1984 to house 154 staff, is now home to more than 250 personnel. Planning work began on this project in 2013.
In 2015, Seattle collected a record $73 million through REET on commercial and residential real estate transactions. The City projects that REET collections will continue to remain strong: $56 million in 2016, $56 million in 2017, $60 million in 2018 and $64 million in 2019. A portion of these revenues will be directed towards the construction of the new North Precinct facility.
“Public safety and community policing are high priorities for Seattle residents,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez. “A new police station will house more officers in a better location, which will help ensure police are available to residents when they call. Safe communities are healthy communities. The proposed financing approach for this facility means we can make a significant investment in our community without asking voters for a new tax increase.”
“With the current North Precinct overcrowded and sitting on a swamp, a new precinct building cannot come soon enough,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess, chair of the Council’s finance committee. “The Council has long pushed to move this project forward as quickly as possible, and I’m pleased that Mayor Murray has developed a solid funding plan to advance construction.”
As part of the City’s effort to respond to homelessness, the City continues to partner with Mary’s Place to provide additional temporary shelter for homeless families within the old PI Bank building at 130th and Stone Way, which currently stands on the site of the new precinct.