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Police will move to Poulsbo City Hall by September

The Poulsbo Police Department will move, possibly in September, to Poulsbo City Hall.              - Brad Camp / Herald file photo
The Poulsbo Police Department will move, possibly in September, to Poulsbo City Hall.
— image credit: Brad Camp / Herald file photo

POULSBO ­ — Poulsbo Police Chief Dennis Swiney is looking forward to his department’s move to City Hall.

Ah, but that sweeping view of Liberty Bay from his current office. “I’d be lying to you if I said I wouldn’t miss it,” he quipped.

The City Council voted 7-0 Wednesday to move the police department to City Hall from its station, a former doctor’s office on Hostmark Avenue; you’ll likely be hearing that site referred to as “view property” as the city moves to sell it.

Swiney said the move could take place by late September. City Finance Director Debbie Booher recommended the city sell rather than lease the Hostmark Avenue property to pay down debt associated with City Hall’s construction and the police department’s move.

The police department has a staff of 19 — that’s 16 sworn officers, including the chief, and three support staff. The department also has five reserve officers and 15 volunteers.

The council approved dipping into the city’s line of credit — up to $200,000 — to finance the move, which largely involves finishing third-floor offices for Municipal Court administration. The Municipal Court itself will remain on the ground floor; the police department will occupy offices next to the court. When the move takes place, City Hall will be fully occupied.

The city has a $2 million line of credit through KeyBank; the $200,000 approved Wednesday means the city will have used most of that money “and that makes me nervous,” Booher said.

While council members expressed concern about using the line of credit, which has a variable interest rate, they expressed confidence that the project will come in lower than $200,000 and that the Hostmark Avenue property will sell.

According to a preliminary budget, the city could save $33,000 if it doesn’t use money set aside for “contingencies” (unforeseen emergencies or design shortfalls identified after a construction project begins) and “general conditions” (expenses incurred on the job that are not directly related to building or purchasing materials). The budget also includes $12,700 in sales tax that the city will pay, and a portion of that revenue will be returned to the city by the state. The city will also pay itself for permitting and inspections.

Councilman Jeff McGinty said the city will save money because it won’t have to maintain and operate the Hostmark Avenue site. Councilman Jeff Bauman, a former city public works director, agreed. “There are non-financial aspects that make sense,” he said.

Councilman Jim Henry, who works as a greeter at Walmart, said he’s talked to numerous residents about the move and “no one has gone against it yet.”

According to the preliminary budget, which put the move at about $190,000, the biggest expense is finishing third-floor office space for Municipal Court administration, $77,220. The police department will occupy ground-floor offices next to the courtroom and secured-parking garage. Finishing that space is budgeted at $38,200, according to the preliminary budget. Some $19,263 is set aside for the contractor’s fee.

Swiney worked with Mayor Becky Erickson on the layout for his department’s new offices.

“We will be able to interact with city staff on a regular basis, City Hall will be a one-stop shop for all city services, we will be in a state-of-the-art facility, and there’s a generator so we can function 24/7, 365 days a week regardless of outages,” he said in an earlier interview.

Erickson has said it makes sense to have law and justice in the same location. Besides parking and traffic infractions, the court handles criminal misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and protection orders for victims of domestic violence. There’s secured parking, which means easy transport of suspects to the county jail in Port Orchard.

Erickson wants to sell the Hostmark Avenue property as well as the old city hall site and an undeveloped lot that had been proposed for the museum, and use the proceeds to offset the costs of new City Hall construction. City Hall, which opened in November, cost about $15 million. The average annual debt is expected to be $800,000 until 2026. The payment then will be about $410,000 a year through 2034.

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