Reynolds told the council that he had collected 200 signatures on
a petition to go to the Logan County Clerk to get the referendum on
the ballot. According to Reynolds, he had expected the question to
be on the ballot for the March primary. However, he said he was
given incorrect information by the clerk’s office as to deadline
dates for filing the petition. Because of this, he was not permitted
to have the referendum placed on the ballot.
However, he told the council that he was not going to let the matter
go, he would push forward with the same referendum this fall.
Reynolds said that in talking to many Lincoln residents, there is a
concern that the city would spend millions of dollars on such a
complex that it can’t afford.
Reynolds also said he understood that there was a need for a larger
space for the two departments. He said he was stunned to learn that
the departments are currently operating in approximately one-fifth
the space actually needed.
He wondered if there were any other alternatives to building a new
complex. Could the city find space to rent? Had they considered that
He also wanted to know where the city was in their timeline for this
plan. He noted that “last year” (the 2014 – ‘15 budget year) there
had been $30,000 allotted and spent for a space needs study. He said
this year (the 2015 - 16 budget year) there is $70,000 allotted for
the next step in the process. He wondered if that money has been
City Administrator Clay Johnson said that the $70,000 had not been
spent. The project was put on hold after the space needs study.
Michelle Bauer addressed the question from Reynolds about renting
space saying the city is already renting space for the police
department. She said the study had been done to determine what were
the feasible alternatives, and that after those conversations, the
item was tabled and has been discussed no further.
Reynolds concluded saying that he was only there to advise the
council of what he was doing. He said, in the end, it would be a
win-win for everyone as it would allow taxpayers to express their
opinion and it would give the council an understanding of what it is
the public wants from them.
History of the topic
This topic dates back several years, beginning long ago with
discussions about how the city fire department is being operated in
one of the oldest stations in the state. The building that is in use
now was originally built for horse-drawn fire equipment and is much
too small to hold the fire trucks and engines that are being
manufactured today. This becomes an issue for the city when
considering purchases of equipment because smaller apparatus have to
be special ordered and special ordered equipment costs more than
something that is a standard size.
Issues also have arisen for the police department that rents space
inside the Logan County Safety Complex. As recently as last month,
Chief Paul Adams addressed this in the Lincoln 2020 Strategic Plan
review, saying that officers were sharing space for multiple tasks
including their reports, their meal breaks, and processing of
The city began looking at how to address the needs of the two
departments in 2013 when Mayor Keith Snyder recommended the
establishment of a utility tax for the city. In his presentation, he
said that the city could issue a $10 million bond for the complex.
The bond could be paid over a 30 year period, using proceeds from
the utility tax.
In January of 2015, the council approved hiring
FGM Architects of St. Louis to perform a space needs study and
survey the city for possible locations for a complex. The first was
instructed to do their study and review six locations. They were
also asked to look at the project as one combined space for both
departments, and also as individual buildings, one for each
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In July of 2015, FGM presented to the city council its findings.
They offered up three scenarios; a combined facility, a fire
department facility, and a police department facility. It also
showed estimated costs of construction. For the fire department, the
figure came in just under $7 million. For the police department, it
came in at just under $6 million. For the combined facility the
total cost was estimated at just under $12 million.
Since that July meeting, the Safety Complex issue has not come up in
council all that often. As mentioned earlier, it was discussed in
the city’s Strategic Plan review in January of 2016, but no actions
have been taken.
There is money in the 2015-16 budget for hiring a firm to do a
design plan for the combined complex or multiple facilities. The
city has not made any moves to hire a firm to date.
On the city website's new “Rumors Page” the following statement
appears regarding the complex:
“To be clear, the
City has not moved forward with any type of architectural or
engineering design. A design would begin to determine the true costs
of a building including operations costs (utilities, etc.) which
cannot be determined by a simple space needs and site location
study. The City Council would, in an open meeting, discuss moving
forward with design and contract with an architect for the design.
Only then would the costs of a potential building(s) and the look
and location of that structure truly be determined. From the
beginning of this process, it was the intention of the Council to
pay for the Public Safety Building through the revenues generated
from the utility tax, and not through increased property or utility
It should be noted that from time to time, there are federal grants
made available for fire stations. The city has applied for such
grants in the past, but no grants were ever awarded. Having a site
plan and a design plan to submit with a grant application would
increase the possibility of the city receiving grant funds should
they become available in the future.
Past related articles