Public safety departments present case for Round Rock bonds

The leaders of Round Rock's police and fire departments hope to get a new public safety training center included in the city's proposed bond election this fall.

Fire Chief David Coatney and Police Chief Tim Ryle offered a presentation May 1 to the Round Rock bond advisory commission regarding the departments' desire for the new training center.

The proposal offered by the two chiefs would include fire and police training facilities along with a road course for driving exercises. The facilities would be located on a 72 acre tract behind the Round Rock police station.

The total projected cost of the facility would be more than $38.3 million with an annual operations and maintenance cost of $294,350.

Round Rock City Manager Steve Norwood said the facility was planned with the area's expected growth in mind.

"The price tag on this is big—there is no way around it," Round Rock City Manager Steve Norwood said. "This is not just a facility for a 100,000-population city, this is one designed for a quarter-million [population] town."

Coatney and Ryle told the commission members that the training facilities would allow the city's firefighters, police officers and emergency medical services personnel greater opportunities to train and refine their skills—a benefit that would pay off with increased public safety. Currently, Round Rock's police and fire departments are forced to contract with outside agencies, such as the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, in order to utilize training facilities.

"The problem is we are meeting a minimum proficiency level due to the lack of suitable training facilities," Coatney said. "We are doing live fire training once or twice a year. It should be being conducted once per month."

Coatney said the Round Rock Fire Department currently rents facilities from the Pflugerville, Leander and Georgetown fire departments to conduct its training.

According to an executive summary provided to the bond advisory commission members, the police and fire departments spend approximately $610,489 annually on costs and time associated with training at facilities outside of Round Rock.

Ryle said the facility would be designed to facilitate training for high risk situations such as shooting incidents, barricades, traffic incidents and disturbances.

"These are perishable skills and you have to practice them over and over," Ryle said.

The bond advisory commission is considering several proposals from city staff for consideration as part of a November bond election package. Among the other proposals are funding for a new library system, parks and recreation, and new fire stations. The commission is expected to offer its recommendations to the City Council before the end of June. The city council members will make the final decision concerning what proposals, if any, to include in a bond election.


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