ST. PETERSBURG— The potential price tag of a new police headquarters continues to rise as City Council members last week tentatively approved spending another $4.2 million to add energy efficient features and more parking.
The rising cost of the police headquarters mirrors the recent price hike for the new Pier. Add to that a steadily increasing bill to fix the city's leaky sewers, soon to be under a state consent order.
It's starting to become a familiar refrain in St. Petersburg.
Jim Kennedy, a council member since 2007, said he remembered discussions of building a new home for the police department for $30 million.
"Certainly not more than $50 million," Kennedy said at a council committee meeting. "Wow. It's really escalated."
The additional money would pay to add a third deck and about 80 spaces in the parking garage, install a solar panel array on the garage's roof and allow the city to use less heat-absorbing concrete instead of asphalt for the pavement outside of the garage.
In a few months, if council members sign off on final cost estimates, the bill for the new headquarters may end up costing more than $79 million.
Construction would start this spring and is scheduled to end in 2018. However, the new building wouldn't be fully operational until the spring of 2019.
Most of Thursday's discussion revolved around $2.8 million for the solar array. Savings generated from the project would take 22 years before paying the cost of the solar array off, officials said.
City Council member Karl Nurse said he was frustrated that building a greener facility had to be an optional add-on. That's because the city's policy for the better part of a decade requires it to create sustainable buildings.
"We've spent all the money," Nurse said. "Now if you want to be sustainable, you need to spend more.''
The committee directed city staff and architects to proceed with the plan while looking at options to save money.