The Kent Police Depart-
ment is located in a building that is 90 years old, a facility constructed as a fire station just two years after Kent became a city. It is in deteriorating condition, with numerous structural defects that have been addressed through temporary fixes. Key operational areas are housed in makeshift spaces that have been cobbled together periodically. The city jail is non-compliant with state standards and is at risk of being closed.
The police station is in such poor condition that remaining there and attempting to renovate it to meet the city's present needs is no longer cost-effective. Sinking more resources into a money pit is a poor use of tax dollars.
A replacement facility has been proposed for a site on South Water Street, next to the present police station, encompassing the block bounded by South Water and South DePeyster streets and Franklin Avenue. Projected cost is $17 million, including $5 million for land acquisition.
Issue 4, which would increase Kent's city income tax by 0.25 percent is being proposed to finance the new facility. We urge a "Yes" vote on the measure on Nov. 5.
Kent needs a new police station. It is no longer a question if one will be built, but when and how it will be financed. Increasing the income tax to 2.25 percent seems to be a better alternative than making cuts in city services to come up with more than $1 million per year needed to finance the new facility -- and that's what city officials say will be their course of action if the tax hike fails.
Kent's law enforcement officers deserve a safe and secure work environment. Inmates being held in the city jail need a facility that meets safety codes and guidelines. The present facility fails to meet those needs. A generation ago, Portage County found itself under a federal court order to build a new jail as a result of a lawsuit filed by a prisoner; the same thing could occur in Kent if the inadequacies of its jail remain unaddressed.
The city of Kent has not raised its municipal tax rate for nearly 30 years. While the revitalization Kent has experienced in recent years has increased tax revenues, they cannot absorb the cost of a new police station. An increase in the income tax -- one that will expire once the facility is paid for -- is a reasonable solution.
Issue 4 deserves support.