The Mayor of Missoula and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency are working on a proposal to use roughly $250,000 in Tax Increment Financing to add shower and locker room improvements to existing police facilities on Catlin Street.
The details have not yet been made public, but Mayor John Engen said a full agenda item for the Missoula Redevelopment Agency's board meeting should be published on the city's website by the end of the week. The MRA board has to approve the use of TIF funds, so it will likely discuss the proposal at the June 18 meeting.
Engen mentioned the news during a discussion on TIF at the City Club Missoula forum on Monday, but added detail in a conversation with the Missoulian on Wednesday.
"We've long had the challenge of officers not having a place to change or shower," Engen said. "We just don't have locker room facilities. One of Chief (Jaeson) White's initiatives, based on officer requests and exacerbated by COVID-19, is the need to provide a place for officers to change and shower and stow gear."
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Engen said the officers are concerned about coming into contact with coronavirus and other things.
"It's not just COVID," he said. "Depending on the day, they're coming in contact with lots of stuff that they're not interested in taking home so I don't blame them a bit."
He said new police Chief Jaeson White worked with an architectural firm to determine what is possible. It appears that the city, if the TIF is approved, will use the money to retrofit the Catlin Street facility.
"Something on the order of $250,000 that would provide locker facilities," Engen said. "It's really just remodeling the existing bathrooms to put a shower in each. So it's not like a big shower. But just so officers can have access as necessary."
The $4.2 million Catlin Street facility was paid for by a combination of $1 million in impact fees and $3.2 million in bonds. The bonds are being paid off through a split between the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, the police department budget and the city's capital improvement fund.
The property is located inside Urban Renewal District II, where the property taxes generated by new construction go to projects inside the district rather than to the city's general fund.
Engen said "improvement of public facilities" is a qualified expenditure of TIF under state law.
He added using the cash from the district means the police department won't have to request the money as a budget addition from the city council.
"It means we don't need to spend general fund money as we're budgeting in a year that has a little bit of unpredictability," he said.
Missoula Police Department spokesperson Travis Welsh declined to comment, saying the department is "happy" letting the mayor speak on the subject for now.