WALLA WALLA — The City Council on Wednesday will again review a proposal to use police station bond money for a $66,000 electrical upgrade at City Hall.
The Council unanimously tabled the proposal last month after numerous concerns were raised that voters would view approval as reneging on a promise to return excess funds used to built the new police station back to tax payers.
City staff had previously reported that the electrical upgrade was reviewed and supported by the Community for the Walla Walla Police Station Committee, which was instrumental is passing the $11.6 million bond measure. But the Council opted to proceed with care in reaching a decision.
“Even if the citizens committee has reviewed this array of projects,” Mayor Jim Barrow said at the May 22 Council meeting, “I am concerned that the citizens may feel nonetheless that they a have been snookered.”
Part of that original bond measure, passed in 2009, included $300,000 for cleanup and repairs to the old police headquarters, which was located in the basement of City Hall.
The proposed electrical upgrade, however, would improve the entire building, not just the basement, and Council wanted a clearer understand of the scope of support by the citizens committee.
On Monday, City Manger Nabiel Shawa said that though the project has not been reviewed by the entire citizens committee, two years ago it was listed as allowable after the committee criticized city officials for wanting to use the money for projects other than repairs and cleanup related to prior police use.
“It was the leadership of the citizens committee that brought it to my attention ... shortly after my arrival here,” said Shawa, who was not at the previous Council meeting. “Basically, the leadership and myself sat down (in 2011) and agreed upon a reasonable scope of work that would be compliant with what was communicated to the citizens and what was stated on the face of the bond issue that was voted on.”
That work included electrical renovations to the building, he added.