JTPD Captain Paul Castimore and town business administrator Debra Millikin presented the progress of the police building expansion project at the virtual town council meeting on Wednesday, June 11. The police department proposed this expansion in 2018 to  obtain NJ Chief Association Accreditation, which would reduce their insurance costs. 

Millikin estimated that the expansion project could cost the town about $2.1 million. These costs would expand the locker room to include a space for female police officers, secure evidence storage and prisoner processing, provide a victims safe area, build a confidential interview room and a second floor, and create a sallyport for police officers to securely enter when they’re taking in prisoners. This also includes additional costs of nearly $300,000 for flooring, furniture, and lockers.

When the town first looked into the project in 2018, it budgeted around $800,000, but after the lowest bidder still cost over $100,000 more than that, it rejected the estimate. The police department reevaluated its plan, cutting anything that wasn’t necessary for the long-term needs of the department. MJA Construction estimated a new cost in April 2020 of $1.8 million and said that the price would increase by $500,000 every six months, keeping the project over its budget.

The town can sell bonds to make up for this additional cost. With a four percent interest rate, this could cost the town between $2.6-3.5 million, depending on whether it paid the bonds back in 10-30 years.

The presentation comes a day after local organizers held a teach-in on systemic racism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd — a peaceful demonstration the captain twice referred to as “the incident.” Castimore said that the expansion would include a muster room which the department could have used as a command station for the Morris County Sheriff’s officers used for back-up during the teach-in.

The expansion project would be a capital improvement, so the cost would be in addition to the $5.7 million the police department will receive from the municipality, which is about 20 percent of the township’s general budget. The council encouraged Castimore and Millikin to look into the 10-year financial option for the expansion project.

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