ASHLAND, WI–Ashland police are calling for a new police department, but funding could stand in their way.
It’s a basement. We’ve been down there for about 45 years. Two generations of law enforcement officers have gone through and worked through the basement,” said Chief James Gregoire.
Gregoire said this set up is just “not functional.”
“I believe we have a legal and moral responsibility to our public servants who we call upon to protect and serve us 24 hours a day, and to the citizens of Ashland,” said Mayor Deb Lewis.
The proposed project, which has been on the city council’s list of priorities since 2015 could cost anywhere from $3.7 to $4.3 million.
But City officials we spoke with Wednesday said they’re working to ensure the potential building wouldn’t impact taxpayers too much, so they’re thinking about creating a redevelopment authority.
“What that is, is a separate legal entity that allows us to borrow longer term over 40 years from a USDA loan, which is a federal loan source. And that will make the payments more affordable, and will also make it possible not to affect our debt levy as significantly, try to keep taxes as low as possible,” said Lewis.
Officials said the new building would allow for less wear-and-tear on squad cars since there will be a garage.
There would also be an evidence room with more secured storage, which will provide for more efficiency day-to-day.
“Police work has changed. And so we have to be moving into the 21st century. We have to equip our officers with what they need safety-wise, efficiency-wise,” said Lewis.
Gregoire said the potential change would be important for Ashland police officers.
“They know what they work out of. They’ve never complained. But the enthusiasm I see in those officers’ faces and eyes when the possibility presents itself as ‘this could happen’ is… they feel valued, and they’re really excited,” said Gregoire.
If the project’s funding was approved this year, officials said the building could be completed by next spring.