With a collective sense of anticipation, the Town of Marana broke ground on a new police headquarters on Wednesday morning. This new facility will add to the campus of the Marana Municipal Complex, already home to the Town’s administrative staff, parks and recreation department, and the Marana Municipal Court. Construction is expected to be complete by summer 2018.
To mark the occasion, Marana hosted a public ceremony for officers, local dignitaries, contractors working on the project, and community members. In recognition of this milestone, that audience learned a little bit about the story behind how this project came together.
It all began in 2014, when Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema approached Town Manager Gilbert Davidson with a Peanut Buster Parfait in one hand and a small request in the other. As Davidson silently chewed, Terry Rozema made his pitch.
“We need a new police headquarters. This kind of investment will ultimately enable our department to meet the growing demands of our growing community. This isn’t about constructing a new building. This is about serving our Town.”
The Chief had Davidson’s attention.
“I think the Chief and his team literally spoke with every human being in the Town of Marana to talk about why we needed to have an investment in this community for a new police department.”
No amount of eloquence, though, could conjure up the $21 million that this idea would cost. For that, Town staff came up with an innovative financial tactic that could generate that revenue without incurring any debt.
Typically, when governments fund large scale capital projects, like building a police facility, they will issue bonds which must be paid back over several decades. Though this strategy can be effective, the interest on these bonds can add considerable sums to the total project cost. Furthermore, if a Town issues bonds for one project, then often issuing bonds for another project a few years later becomes even more costly, if not altogether impossible.
To work around this challenge, Town staff proposed increasing Marana’s sales tax temporarily by 0.5%. These new revenues could then be directed into an account solely dedicated to the police facility, such that when the fund reached a target balance, the tax would immediately terminate.
Raising the sales tax in this way required the approval of the Marana Town Council, and the Town Council needed to be sure that the community would support them in this endeavor. In order to gauge and build that support, Marana’s councilmembers, along with Chief Rozema, conducted an extensive public information campaign aimed at educating residents and business owners about the importance of a new police headquarters to Marana.
“I would be a horrible salesperson,” commented Chief Rozema, “I really have to believe in something to sell it. What I was selling was not the construction of a building. What I was selling is a better police department.”
Ultimately, the Council determined that the public wholeheartedly supported this project. After voting to implement the temporary sales tax, Town staff received not a single complaint from the public.
Davidson remarked that this support was “a testament to the leadership of the department and really to everyone within the PD that there’s that much respect in the community for the job that they do.”
When complete, the new facility will offer a number of upgrades for Marana’s police officers. There will be classrooms for trainings, improved evidence processing areas, community spaces, a shooting range, and even a kennel for the Marana K-9 units. Most importantly, though, there will be an increased capacity to serve Marana’s growing population. Marana’s officers are single-mindedly committed to public service, and this new department will enable them to fulfill that mission.
Today’s ceremony was recorded on Facebook Live and can be viewed below