City councilors are once again tackling the issue of a new public safety center and the proposal to put a 17-story tower at the corner of Hargett and McDowell streets. Consultants working on the design have a report to council about alternative sites and layouts for he center to cut costs and avoid a tax increase.
The $205-million Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center became the focus of debate for councilors for the first three months of this year. That debate ended with a 4-4 vote in April and the project stalled out. Council set up a special task force to look at the center and now has four options for councilors to consider.
The options involve moving the emergency communications facilities from the top of the building to underground, or to a different site. Read a full discussion and risk analysis of the options below. The new proposal also recommends going after new federal stimulus money to fund part of the project.
While the Lightner Center has become the focus of debate, it had been packaged with a series of remote operations centers for the Solid Waste Services Department. Councilors could vote separately this week to approve $100 million $50 million in bonds to decentralize trash collection to smaller sites across the city.
New stimulus grant
The federal government recently awarded the city nearly $200,000 for enhancing “local energy supply reliability and to facilitate repair and recovery when outages occur,” according to a report to council.
The report says the city will use the grant to identify key infrastructure and develop plans to respond to major power outages.
$50k loan for downtown coffee shop
The city could loan $50,000 to a new downtown coffee shop under an item at the top of this week’s agenda. Deepjava Café LLC plans to open up shop at 223 S. Wilmington St. and asked the city for the loan out of the Downtown Loan Pool Program, which the council established to make credit available for new businesses along Fayetteville Street.
New tax for gambling machines
Council has a brand new tax on the table for discussion this week. If approved the tax would charge businesses $2,500 for each electronic gambling machine, plus $1,000 for machines not in use, with a max of $20,000 per year. City staff estimate the tax could raise $500,000 for the next fiscal year.