Police Guild wants bond funds restricted to new police facility

The city wants to use some funds to renovate the old police department in City Hall.

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WALLA WALLA - Members of the Walla Walla Police Guild and Walla Walla Area Crime Watch committee are asking the city to "keep its word" to use new police bond funds only for police facilities projects.

In a letter dated Feb. 23, Walla Walla Police Guild representatives asked the city to return the expected "excess funds according to the promise made to the voters."

"We just want to make sure that the money for the bond is used for police purposes only and not for any other department to use," Guild President Marlon Calton said.

In August 2009, voters approved the sale of $11.6 million in general obligation bonds to build the new police station. That proposition did state funds could be used to "renovate the existing Police Station and other existing Police facilities."

City Manager Nabiel Shawa, who began working for the city after the August 2009 election, said his investigation shows the renovation has always been part of the bond and known by staff, City Council and the general public.

"I spoke to the Council from one end to the other and they all say this is correct; this is what was voted on ... and the citizens of Walla Walla are pretty savvy, and it was right there on the ballot," Shawa said.

According to city staff, the agreement was that up to $300,000 of bond funds could be used to renovate the 8,000-square-foot basement of City Hall once the police move out.

But the original proposition does not stipulate a specific amount for basement renovations, and so far no plans or actual figures have been determined.

"They are very tight lipped about it, and that is what led to this," Calton said. He also question why it would cost up to $300,000 to renovate a working police station.

"When we leave, it is still a viable space. It does not need a lot of work. Now if you want to change it, I guess it is like renovating a house. It depends on how much money you want to put into it. And cleanup shouldn't take that much," he said.

Shawa said he will be meeting with Guild members this week to discuss this issue.

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