New construction needed due to lack of space
Without a new facility to store evidence, the Stallings police department would be out of space. Police Chief Michael Dummett presented that information to council members Monday, Sept. 26, explaining the department’s needs and available options.
“One of the things I was tasked with upon arriving here was assessment of the things that were needed, things that were not needed,” Dummett said. “At this time, we do not possess the ability for any major case, that would require any type of storage past something miniscule.”
After a case goes to court, people usually believe the evidence just goes away, Dummett said. He pointed out that beyond the first court case, evidence has to be preserved because people have the right to challenge their convictions.
“People don’t understand just a small case of marijuana, that guy has the chance to appeal,” Dummett said. “He has the ability to go all the way to the Supreme Court. We have to sit on that evidence all that time.”
Currently, the department uses two small offices which were converted to storage space. The total facility comes out to 291 square feet. Instead, Dummett requested approval for a 25 x 40 storage facility, presenting bids his office had collected from local construction companies. They ranged from the $97,280 proposed by Colony Builders to $136,600 from Southside, the same company building the Stallings park. The proposal was discussed during this year’s budget process, but didn’t make the final capital improvements plan.
Council members were caught off guard by the proposed cost.
“This is basically $100 a square foot,” Stallings mayor Lynda Paxton said. “I have a lot of difficulty trying to see what the value is for that kind of cost per square foot. You can go buy an all brick house with cabinets and carpet for $75 a square foot.”
Mayor Pro Tem Wyatt Dunn suggested they put the project on hold, to look at it during the coming year’s budget process.
“We’re two months into our fiscal year (and) this is a five percent increase in our budget,” Dunn said. “That’s a large amount. I would go through the budget process in March. I don’t think it’s critical we do it now.”
Chief Dummett argued that waiting could create problems for the department.
“We’re one case from being out of business,” Dummett said, pointing out there would be no place to store evidence should a murder occur. “You don’t have enough storage facility today to handle that case,” Dummett said. “I can’t go to that (victim’s) family and say I wish he would have got killed in March.”
Council member Paul Frost said he was in favor of the project, but wondered if the town could get things done for a cheaper price. In the current economy, he wondered if another company would bid lower, knowing what the offers were already.
The town council voted to approve moving forward with the lowest bid currently out for the project, with Dunn and Frost in opposition.