Deschutes County Commissioners Send Sunriver Public Safety Building Tax to May Ballot

Current facilities are lacking in several respects facility visits, community forums planned

SUNRIVER, Ore. (KTVZ) – Last week, Deschutes County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution sending to the May 17 primary ballot a local service district 10-year capital improvement option tax from Sunriver to fund the renovation and expansion of the Sunriver Public Safety Building.

Here is a press release issued Sunday by the Sunriver Service District, providing details on the reasons for the project and its sources of funding:

The service district submitted a formal request earlier this year to the commissioners for financial support. Specifically, the application sought funding from the Transitional Chamber Tax Fund for the critical public safety infrastructure project. The board voted unanimously to support nearly half of the cost of the project, for a total of $8 million to be disbursed over three years; $4 million in fiscal year 2022/23 and $2 million over the next two fiscal years.

The estimated cost of converting the current fire station into a combined police and fire department public safety building is $18 million. The district will contribute $3 million from its reserves. This leaves a potential funding gap of $7 million.

The service district sends a ballot measure to Sunriver property owners in May asking to approve a 10-year capital improvement tax for the remaining balance. A low-interest, tax-exempt loan will be sought to service the debt over the 10 years of drawdown.

The financial impact for owners of this major public safety improvement is $0.47 per $1,000 of assessed value. For a property owner in Sunriver, with an assessed property value of $400,000, that would be an additional $188 per year for the next 10 years.

Sunriver’s current police and fire facilities do not meet code requirements for an “essential facility.” Essential installation is required by building code to withstand much higher levels of destructive forces such as seismic, wind and snow loads. In addition, backup power generation is required in the event of a power outage. The fire department does not have sufficient standby generator capacity and the police department does not have a standby generator.

The fire apparatus bay has compromised the roof trusses from previous extreme snow loads. There is also a lack of gender-specific accommodations for female firefighters.

The storage of switches (firefighter protective uniforms) is insufficient. Switches are susceptible to damage from UV rays and exhaust fumes, requiring firefighters to keep their equipment bagged to prevent this damage, impacting response time. The self-contained breathing apparatus compressor, which fills the air tanks carried by the firefighters, is not housed in a clean room, which is important for the integrity of the equipment.

The police department is part of the Sunriver Owners Association (SROA) administrative office building and lacks proper security throughout. There is no space for interviews with victims/suspects; they are currently being held in the employee break room. The department does not have a secure holding room for suspects, space for an intoxicator, or a reservation/fingerprinting area or area. Therefore, officers are off duty to transport suspects to the Deschutes County Jail in Bend or La Pine Substation for reservation. There is no adequate space for processing and storing evidence.

Both departments lack adequate decontamination areas. The fire department is currently hosing down firefighters in the apparatus bays before going to the living quarters. Industry standards are to separate all hazardous materials and blood-borne pathogens from living quarters.

The police department has no decontamination or shower facilities. In the performance of their duties, personnel from both departments are exposed to carcinogens, blood and bodily fluids, mud, snow, dirt and rain without being able to properly decontaminate themselves.

The Sunriver Service District is offering upcoming tours and forums to show the community the various gaps, present the latest information, and answer any questions.

Events to come:

Tours of fire and police facilities

Sunriver Fire and Police Chiefs will personally lead tours of their current facilities and answer questions about why an integrated public safety building is needed.

February 25, March 9, 25 and 30

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Tours begin at the Sunriver Police Station

Register here: www.sunriversd.org/public-safety-bldg

Mandatory masks.

Sunriver Community Forums

March 25, April 29 and May 10

4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Dillon Room at SHARC

Everyone is welcome, masks required

A presentation and videos of the preliminary plans, a financial update and Q&A.

Come learn about the shortcomings of the current facilities and why a task force of Sunriver owners recommended moving forward with a combined public safety building.

The District encourages community input to ensure this project is a successful collaboration of all Sunriver stakeholders. Information and progress on the Public Safety Building can be found at www.sunriversd.org. For more information, email [email protected] or call 541-593-8622.

Jennifer C. Burleigh