Beaufort News

Port Royal weighs funding options, including police station expansion

Members of Port Royal's Town Council got a peek at plans to expand the police station on Paris Avenue and will decide whether to pursue the project on a tight deadline with money from a special tax district that expires in 2013.

Town architect Cooter Ramsey of Allison Ramsey Architects presented preliminary drawings last week of a 3,000-square-foot expansion, which would include adding a second story to the station.

Built in the 1990s, the police station is part of a complex that also includes a town fire station. The buildings total 8,000 square feet, Ramsey said.

The complex was financed with a 15-year tax increment financing district -- a tool that allows jurisdictions to use increases in property-tax revenues to fund redevelopment in the area where the tax is collected.

Port Royal's TIF district's boundaries run along Ribaut Road and reach into some adjacent streets, town manager Van Willis said.The TIF district generated about $597,000 last year. The town has about $900,000 in its TIF fund now, Willis said.

Officials have suggested using the money to expand the station.

"We're going to try to get some cost estimates and see if the price is within the funds we currently have," Willis said. "Then we'll come back to council for a 'yes' or 'no.'<2009><2009>"

The expansion plans will be considered by the town's design review board.

If built, the expansion would give the police department additional space for offices, records and storage, an improved waiting area, a larger squad room, and a new conference room, Capt. Alan Beach said.

The second floor would remain unfinished, providing room for storage and growth, Ramsey said.

"We're only going to get one opportunity to add on to this," Ramsey said. "We want to get it