I agree that the Augusta Police Department needs a new headquarters, and I support the proposed Willow Street location.

However, I cannot support the referendum to spend $21 million and to build a 21,000-square-foot facility for the project.

The proposed cost is approximately four times the national average cost for police station projects and the proposed building will be twice the size of the national average size for police station projects.

When the project was in initial planning stages, the city manager researched the costs of similar projects recently completed in the area and recommended that the city budget $8 million for this project. The town of Oakland, with one-third of the population of Augusta, recently completed a new police station for $1 million.

The police department has a staff of 60. Split evenly over three shifts, and with half of the staff on the road, there should be approximately 10 people working in the building for each shift. The department certainly doesn’t need 21,000 square feet of space for 10 people.

I encourage voters to vote against this referendum and to return the project to city staff for redesign of a project at a more reasonable size and cost.

While that redesign process is underway, perhaps the unusual and extraordinary volatility we are currently experiencing in construction costs and material availability will subside, giving the city good value for its investment in the project.

Supporters have indicated that the city can afford the $21 million cost and that the project won’t create a need for a tax increase, etc. I recall similar comments by the supporters of every recently completed project.

The facts show that Augusta’s annual expenditures over the past 20 years have increased at a rate that exceeds the increase in the consumer price index by 21%.

Jeff Shostak


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