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Council moves forward on sales tax, police department project

This conceptual drawing from BKV Group architects was submitted to the Detroit Lakes City Council last fall to give them an idea of what a new police department might look like. BKV Group was just hired by the council to design the new $6.7 million facility. (Graphic by BKV Group)

The Detroit Lakes City Council moved forward Tuesday night with two big pieces of the plan for construction of a new city police department.

Acting on the recommendation of the city finance committee, the council approved the first reading of a new ordinance implementing a 0.5% sales tax on all taxable items within city limits.

The proposed tax was first approved by city voters at a special election last November, then by the Minnesota Legislature at its 2019 session. Its specific purpose will be to raise approximately $6.7 million for construction of a new police department facility, set to break ground in the spring of 2020.

The second reading of the new ordinance will take place at a special council meeting set for Thursday, June 20, at 4 p.m. If approved and adopted, the local option sales tax will take effect Oct. 1.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council approved hiring the architectural firm BKV Group to design the plans and specifications for the new police facility.

"BKV has done (the design of) over 80 police stations," said Alderman Ron Zeman. "We got a good firm."

Zeman added that the public safety committee had interviewed five regional architectural firms out of the12 that submitted requests for proposals, or RFPs, and selected two finalists, of which BKV was determined to be the one they wanted to hire for the project.

In other business, the council approved the audited 2018 financial statement for the City of Detroit Lakes, as presented by Tracee Bruggeman of Brady Martz & Associates early in the meeting.

According to Bruggeman, the audit showed that the city had a positive general fund balance of $5,282,000, which was a $387,000 increase over the previous year. The city's financial statement also received an "unmodified opinion" from the auditing firm, Bruggeman said, which means that there were "no instances of non-compliance" with government accounting practices.

The council also approved the use of the city's food and beverage tax revenues for parking lot improvements at both Detroit Mountain Recreation Area and the new Boys & Girls Club facility, which will officially open to the public for the first time at an Aug. 22 ribbon cutting.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

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