City May Require CUC to Pay Up For New Police Station

Photo courtesy of the City of Claremont

The Claremont University Consortium may have to contribute more than $4 million to finance the the City of Claremont's new police station.

The city plans to construct a new police station on the site of the current one, which was built in 1972, at 570 West Bonita Ave. According to a visual presentation on the city’s website, the current building “does not meet current seismic and structural building codes.”

The current plan is to accumulate $25 million, financed for no more than 25 years, to build a 25,000-square foot building that should fit the needs of the Claremont Police Department for the next 40 years, Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen told The Claremont Courier.

A 15-member police facility committee was established in January 2016 to make recommendations to the city council about “cost, size, location, and financing mechanism,” according to the City of Claremont website. Five months later, the committee presented its recommendations but was unable to decide on the financing mechanism for building the police station.

In July, the city council decided to host a series of public meetings throughout early fall to solicit feedback from residents. Its goal is to place a measure on the June 5, 2018 ballot that will determine the most popular financing mechanism.

“Many of those within the committee expressed a strong opinion that the colleges should contribute to the new facility based on the belief that the community and the colleges have shared values in terms of wanting (and benefiting) from a safe city,” Vander Veen wrote in an email to TSL, adding that community members believe the colleges should contribute between $3.5 and $5 million.

The two main options for financing the police station are parcel taxes and general obligation bonds.

If a parcel tax is approved on the 2018 ballot, it would tax residents based on the square footage of their buildings, at 5.03 cents per square foot, or per property, at $146.02 per property, according to the presentation on the city’s website.

The other option, general obligation bonds, would tax $31.08 per $100,000 in “assessed value.”

Educational institutions such as the CUC are not required to pay general obligation bonds. Under a parcel tax, however, the CUC, along with churches and nonprofits, would be forced to pay, and at a much higher rate.

A general obligation bond would yield a higher amount of money from residents per year – $1.246 million compared to $1.045 million under a parcel tax. But the consortium would pay much less under a bond than a parcel tax.

If voters approved a square footage parcel tax, the CUC would pay $185,704 per year ($4,642,600 total over the 25-year span) or $32,270 per year ($806,750 total) under a flat rate parcel tax, Vander Veen wrote.

Because it owns residential property, the CUC would pay $16,003 per year ($400,075 total) under a general obligation bond, the Courier article found.

While the colleges have yet to agree on a contribution amount, the CUC agreed in November 2015 to contribute $1 million if a previous measure to implement a parcel tax passed – it didn’t. Vander Veen believes the CUC might agree to the same measure now. 

The colleges are cooperating with the police department, CUC Director of Communications Kim Lane wrote in an email to TSL.

“The colleges have been in ongoing communications with the city about the potential police station," she wrote. "The colleges will contribute in the same way as other non-profits in Claremont, based on the funding mechanism selected.”

If the city decides to finance the police station with bonds, the CUC pledged to pay 3 percent of the bond cost at a meeting in June, the Courier article said. This would amount to a maximum $750,000 contribution.

The number comes from the CUC’s claim that about 3 percent of calls made to Campus Safety are sent to the Claremont Police Department.

“In 2015, Campus Safety received 27,597 calls for service," Lane wrote. "Of those, less than 3 percent (more serious violations, including arrests) were forwarded to the Claremont Police Department."

This statistic is similar to results from a recent study that was conducted to evaluate the CUC’s use of CPD resources. Vander Veen said the study, which pulled data from the police department’s records management system, showed that 3.56 percent of calls to which the police department responded from 2011 to 2015 were from the consortium.

However, the numbers spike when comparing other resources. Vander Veen said that during that same period “the colleges represented 28.62 percent of part one crimes,” which include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and arson. While about 90 percent of those crimes were handled by Campus Safety, she said, “every report produced by Campus Safety is forwarded to the police department for potential follow-up and processed to provide city-wide crime statistics to the Department of Justice.”

Vander Veen said there are also less obvious services CPD provides the CUC. For example, it's "not uncommon" for students who are victims of crimes to consult with officers or detectives before pursuing criminal charges.