KUNA — Kuna City Council is looking into adding new impact fees to bolster police resources as the city grows.

The proposal on the table is $90 per residential unit and 4 cents per square foot of nonresidential developments, such as commercial and industrial.

Impact fees, a one-time expense for developers on new projects, can only go toward the city’s capital costs. Kuna’s working plan is to have the police impact fees go toward a new, possibly $1.6 million, 7,000-square-foot police station.

The council will take public input on the issue at its April 2 meeting, starting at 6 p.m. at Kuna City Hall, 751 W. Fourth St.

To draft these impact fees and projected needs, Anne Wescott with Galena Consulting worked with the city’s Impact Fee Advisory Committee — composed of community members — and other interested parties such as developers and city staff. Wescott also worked with the city of Nampa on its impact fees, which will increase in July.

Kuna’s population is estimated to increase by 16,000 people by 2028, according to the Galena report. In that time, 5,000 new residences and 850,000 square feet of nonresidential development are expected. Kuna’s population is currently estimated at 19,200.

For law enforcement to maintain its current level of service of about 0.72 officers per 1,000 people, it would need to hire 12 officers in those 10 years. The city has expressed interest in increasing that ratio to one officer per 1,000 people. To meet that goal, 11 officers in addition to the aforementioned 12 are needed.

Money to pay the new officers will have to come from a source other than impact fee revenue, which can only be used for necessities that will last more than eight years, according to the report.

“As the population goes up, crime goes up; of course there are more calls,” Kuna Police Chief Jon McDaniel said. “That’s the nature of crime. In smaller cities, policing is definitely getting harder with the expectations of the public.”

For example, calls in Kuna for a juvenile beyond control increased by about 49 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to statistics provided by Ada County Sheriff’s Office. There were 55 such calls in 2016, and 82 in 2017.

To help, McDaniel proposed hiring a detective to solely focus on juvenile-related crimes. For funding the detective and other department needs, McDaniel asked the city council last year for a nearly $292,000 budget increase, putting it at about $2.2 million for 2019.

Law enforcement’s current facilities house 17 officers and a few other staff members in a 2,700-square-foot, former four-bedroom farmhouse on Boise Street. To accommodate 23 more officers, an additional 7,000 square feet would be needed.

“It’s the city’s obligation to provide health and safety for its citizens,” McDaniel said. “One way is (through) its police department. Eventually (we will) need a full-functioning police station.

“Impact fees are part of the path making it a reality,” he added. “Impact fees are the best way to make sure growth pays for its part of a police station.”

SHERIFF CONTRACT

The city of Kuna pays the Ada County Sheriff’s Office to provide police services within city limits.

When a city chooses to contract with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office for police services, it hires the sheriff’s office to run a local police department and provide law enforcement and public safety services within its city limits, according to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office tailors each contract to meet each community’s specific needs.

For example, Kuna Police Department has officers dedicated to servicing just Kuna city limits. Kuna Police Department does not have its own SWAT team or drug crime teams that other cities, such as Boise, Meridian and Nampa have.

However, when Kuna has needed aid from a SWAT or other specialized team, Ada County Sheriff’s Office provides that, as part of the contract.

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If a new police station is built through impact fee funds and other funding, the city of Kuna would own the new building. Currently there is no fund for a new police station in Kuna, McDaniel said.

With the changing of the construction market, Wescott and the impact fees committee made sure to include “inflationary language” in the plan, so that as costs to build the station fluctuate, the impact fees would adjust. Funds to build the station may not be finalized in just a year. If it should take, say, five years to finalize funding for the station, market costs likely will have changed, and so will the estimated cost to build the station.

“We know that construction costs have been skyrocketing,” Wescott said. “Labor (is more) expensive, materials, bread … (and will be) more expensive in future.”

POLICE STATION

Kuna’s police station, an administrative building rented from the Kuna Joint School District, houses an interview room, a kitchen, several offices, an evidence collection center and a meeting area for about six people.

Staff include:

n 1 police chief

n 2 sergeants

n 4 detectives

n 10 deputies

n 1 administrative assistant.

Sometimes Ada County-specific deputies in the area will need some work space, so they utilize some area in the station. The close proximity of offices, ringing phones and the public lobby can be a challenge when dealing with multiple issues at one time and make it difficult to insure the privacy of those needing assistance, said Jennifer Abrao, administrative assistant for Kuna Police Department. If more detectives were hired, they may have to share office space with another detective, which is not ideal when investigating delicate and complex cases.

There isn’t space to hold suspects, and the parking lot could have better security, according to the chief, and the operation is running out of storage space. The facility could also do with multiple security upgrades, to better protect sensitive information in the office and vehicles parked outside.

IMPACT FEES

The proposed police impact fees are unlike the impact fees Kuna City Council approved for the fire district. The city of Kuna approved $701 per new residential unit and 35 cents per square foot of new nonresidential development last year.

Why such a difference? Wescott said that fire services often require more expensive equipment and more extensive operational needs in fire stations, such as equipped bays for the fire engines and dorms to sleep in.

Whereas for police, “the service is just provided by officers,” Wescott said. So the question is, “What kind of capital do we need to support the people who do the work?”

And, in Kuna’s case, Kuna’s fire district has a broader area of coverage than the police force. In its 110 square miles, Kuna fire responds to calls in the city limits and “unincorporated” Ada and Canyon county areas. Kuna police work only in Kuna city limits, unless they are called to a serious emergency outside their jurisdiction, but that’s rare, and if it does happen, Kuna is credited some money back for the response.

The city of Kuna also collects impact fees for public parks. Some nearby cities collect impact fees for roads, parks and other services.

Alx Stevens is the reporter for Kuna Melba News. Contact her at 208-922-3008 or editor@kunamelba.com.

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