A modest HQ proposal

A $56 million deficit and a $40 million police station—if anything typifies incongruous thinking when it comes to budget issues, this would have to be it. Granted, the shortfall is a projection of operating expenses for the city of Chico, and capital projects get funded differently, but the principle remains: Why build a lavish facility when we’re struggling to pay people to work there?

That’s why we’re encouraged by the proactive plan Interim Assistant City Manager Dennis Beardsley laid out at the last City Council meeting (March 4). Rather than go forward with a new HQ at Bruce and Humboldt roads, the city would like to take over the California Highway Patrol property abutting the current police administration building and corps yard. The CHP needs more space, so if the city can facilitate the transfer of five acres near Highway 99, the Highway Patrol will move and Chico PD can expand incrementally, as funding permits.

The local CHP captain, Scott Gillingwater, expressed his support for the proposal, and the City Council voted to let Beardsley explore this opportunity.

We’ll overlook for the moment that the state’s budget crisis is more dire than the city’s. We’ll assume Gillingwater gets his money, and we’ll also assume the CHP can get the precise property it needs. (Bruce and Skyway? North Chico?)

The fact that Chico PD is willing to scale back its dream home is a positive sign. Remodeling and retrofitting aren’t as nice as starting from scratch, but tough times call for compromise. Let’s hope the police and city remain as pragmatic when it comes to contract talks.