Sales tax hike in Sequim would fund new police station

Sequim City Engineer David Garlington points out the features of one of three buildings schemes proposed for a Sequim Civic Center on West Cedar Street. Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daiy News

Sequim City Engineer David Garlington points out the features of one of three buildings schemes proposed for a Sequim Civic Center on West Cedar Street. Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daiy News

SEQUIM — Now that the city has basic design options on paper, Sequim events planner Pat Johansen has volunteered to coordinate a campaign to generate voter support for a sales tax to finance construction of a new police station.

“I have a number of people who have stepped up or said they would be willing to help,” Johansen said, adding that she hopes to have a campaign committee of eight to 10 Sequim volunteers by next week to help her inform the community about Proposition 1 on the Aug. 7 ballot.

“I hope to put together a speakers group that would include some of the” City Council members, she said.

Those speakers, Johansen said, would approach civic groups and organizations to give them the facts about the proposal.

If approved by voters, Proposition 1 would raise sales tax collected within the city by one-tenth of 1 percent.

The increase would add 1 cent to a $10 purchase.

Sequim now has the highest sales tax rate in Clallam County at 8.6 percent. The August measure, if approved by voters, would raise it to 8.7 percent.

Clallam County sales taxes everywhere except Sequim are now at a rate of 8.4 percent. Jefferson County now has the highest sales tax rate on the North Olympic Peninsula at 9 percent.

The new Sequim tax would generate about $240,000 per year to pay for the construction of the new police station, city officials said.

The police station is a major part of an overall civic center project proposed at a cost of between $12 million and $14 million.

The civic center would house the police station and all city offices under one roof on newly acquired city property on West Cedar Street between North Second and North Sequim avenues, east of the Sequim Transit Center.

Johansen said she believes Sequim residents will approve the proposal once they learn of the need and “particularly when people understand how modest an increase this is.”

Mailed-out information and endorsement advertising would be another part of the campaign, she said.

“The police department has never had an adequate home,” she said, and a new station would be one more way of attracting well-qualified officers to work in Sequim in the future.

Mayor Ken Hays said he likely would work with Johansen as one of the City Council speakers to share the facts on the issue with groups and organizations.

“As a citizen, I can help promote the proposition, and as a councilor,” Hays said.

“I think we definitely need a police station. Where the police department is housed is wholly inadequate.”

The city now spends about $200,000 renting satellite offices for public works and planning staff on North Fifth Avenue and for police and other space in the southeast corner of the Sequim Village Shopping Center, which includes the J.C. Penney department store and a strip of other retail shops.

Hays said a civic center is needed to increase the city’s efficiency for delivery of public services.

The civic center, he said, “is a part of developing longer economic prosperity as a significant anchor for the business community.”

About 35 city residents Monday were given the opportunity to get an up-close look at and share their thoughts on three floor-plan options proposed for a Sequim Civic Center.

City Manager Steve Burkett said the city received six comments during the four-hour open house Monday.

Councilmen Ted Miller and Don Hall helped host the open house along with City Engineer David Garlington and city-hired consultant partner Rich Murakami of Seattle-based Arai Jackson Ellison Murakami LLP architecture and urban design.

Those who attended appeared to prefer an L-shaped two-story building scheme with 42 parking spaces, a basement with 2,000 square feet for a police shooting range, 6,650 square feet for police on the first floor and 6,500 square feet on the second floor.

The City Hall half of the civic center building would have 8,400 square feet on each of the two floors.

The civic center proposal would include 5,300 square feet of common space in the preferred option.

A second scheme with about the same square footage in two floors was designed in a U-shape.

A third scheme with three stories of similar square footage also is proposed as a design option.

City officials figure that between 30,000 and 40,000 square feet is needed to house a city staff of more than 70.

The City Council approved a $1.25 million purchase from Serenity House homeless shelter of a 22,000-square-foot property with existing buildings at the corner of North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street to go toward the future site of a new City Hall and police station.

The City Hall administration building on West Cedar Street was constructed in 1974 and had to be remodeled for better use of tight space while new city facilities are being sought.

Serenity House has since acquired Kite Girl Plaza on West Washington Street to relocate transition apartments for the needy and a thrift store.

Those buildings would be torn down fronting North Sequim Avenue to make way for the new civic center.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2390 or at [email protected]

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