Walla Walla voters gave the Police Department more than a new home on Tuesday. They also gave a vote of confidence to the Police Department as well as city government.
The strong showing at the ballot box -- 62.3 percent in favor of the $11.6 million bond proposal to build a new police station -- shows that most folks think Walla Walla police are doing a solid job serving and protecting the community. In addition, folks believe that the Police Department and the city government will use their money wisely.
The city has demonstrated its fiscal responsibility in the way it handled excess funds after the construction of the new fire station off Wilbur Avenue.
The City Council wisely decided to return more than $400,000 to taxpayers as a reduction on their property tax payments. The rate cut of 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation translates to $40 per year on a $200,000 home.
At the time we praised the Council for its actions and said it is accumulating a lot of trust and goodwill with voters. The move paid off Tuesday.
The current police facility in the basement of City Hall is 101 years old and should have been replaced years ago. It is a maze of rooms and hallways that have been cobbled together in an attempt to meet the department's changing needs.
In addition to being a very worthy project, a new police station is something the public wanted. In a 2007 survey of the community conducted by the Union-Bulletin that included about 1,300 respondents, participants chose building a new police station as the third most pressing community need. Fixing the roads was, by the way, No. 1.
The decision to approve the $11.6 million bond and build a new police station is a good one for Walla Walla.
City officials and supporters of the project have estimated that this project will come in under budget for a variety of reasons, chief among them is the current economic downturn.
Building costs are down and that should result in a savings for taxpayers. City officials have pledged to return any extra cash to the taxpayers.
If that can be accomplished -- and there is an expectation among voters that it will -- even more trust will be generated. And that could translate into approval of much-needed projects such as fixing the roads.
But the focus for now is to follow the will of the voters and build a much-needed police station.