Opinion | staff editorial | Pennies for police

Eureka voters will be faced with Prop E, Tuesday, April 3


Becca Newton

With open arms, Michael Wiegand, Chief of police, discusses plans for a new justice center, Feb. 8.

Voters in Eureka will go to the polls to vote on Prop E, Tuesday, April 3.

Prop E would be a half-cent increase on sales tax that would go toward facility costs, infrastructure improvements and flood-control measures. If passed, the tax is expected to generate up to $15.9 million in its 20-year span.

The Eureka Board of Aldermen approved three projects that would be funded through Prop E:

As citizens who depend on Eureka Police daily, it is our duty to repay them for their services by passing Prop E and granting them a new and improved facility.

Our safety depends on their ability to do their jobs. The current facility hardly allows for the police to do their work, yet somehow they do that an incredible job without complaintnonetheless.

Assessments have rated the Allenton bridge structurally deficient and only two percent sufficient. One thousand cars pass over the bridge each day to and from the 400 homes on the south side of the tracks. The bridge, built in 1928, does not meet current fire code and is too narrow for emergency vehicles to pass.

The generated taxes would assist replacing the Allenton bridge, which is an $8 million project. Private grants would also go toward the new bridge.

After two hundred-year floods in less than two years, the Eureka community is in need of flood prevention and control measures.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began an 18-month study of Eureka to find ways to prevent future floods, Feb. 7. The $100,000 study will be funded by both private grants and city funds.

The current Eureka Police station, built in 1981, does not meet building code, standards or rules. City employees built the station without contractors in an effort to save taxpayers money.

Chief of Police Michael Wiegand reports that Eureka has spent $308,000 on maintenance repairs and an additional $50,000 on roof repairs since it’s initial construction. The station lacks a sally port and fire suppression system, uses the garage for storage, and the 27 officers are expected to get dressed in a space not big enough for one.

The city says that the new station could be built for less than $8 million.

Although Prop E would raise taxes, the difference would be pennies. Everyone coming in and spending money in Eureka would pay the tax.

With homes nearly unreachable to emergency services, police working in dangerous  conditions and repeating floods destroying homes and businesses, something needs to change. Prop E could generate the funds needed to fix these issues in the city.

While city personnel, especially the Eureka police and fire departments, reduced damages to only $300,000 in the second flood, the flood of 2015 caused $1.5 million in damages, a staggering cost to continuously pay if floods are to repeat themselves.

It would be an understatement to say that the Eureka Police did a great job controlling both floods. The department reduced the damage of the flood by 500 percent and keep the city and its residents safe.

The police manage our crises exceptionally, which is even more impressive when one sees the conditions in which they do that work: tight,nearly-unmanageable conditions with cracked ceilings and mold growing day by day.

The least we can do is make sure the place they work is safe.

It is also important to note that the Eureka Police watch over not just the more than 10,000 Eureka residents, but when Six Flags is open, they police that, too. The population can easily double with the addition of Six Flags.

Following fatal shootings by police in recent years, there is a belief that police are all ‘evil’, racist and out to get everyone and that the police are not worthy of new facilities or tax funds. This is not the case for these officers. We know first hand who these officers are. The Eureka Police are kind, genuine officers who care about the community and they deserve a new station.

These are the officers we see in our stores, on our streets and in our schools. These are the officers who risk their lives each and every day to protect our great city, the Best Small Town in America: Eureka. Passing Prop E is the least we can do to show our appreciation for the Eureka Police.

For an additional $.03 on a $6 Culvers order, $.15 for a $30 camo vest from Dickey Bub or $1 on a $200 run to Schnucks’s, voters can determine the fate of the police department.

The safety of civilians is in voters’ hands with Prop E. The EHS-hub encourages citizens to vote yes for Prop E, April 3.