Tax increase proposed in Blacksburg for new police department, among other projects

Total cost is estimated at $16.5 million

BLACKSBURG – A 1-cent real estate tax increase is now under consideration for those living in Blacksburg. The tax will be used for a multimillion dollar project that town leaders said are long overdue improvement projects.

Continually growing, the town looks much different than what it did in the 1980s and so does its police force. Built to house only about two dozen officers when it was constructed in the 1980s, Blacksburg town manager Marc Verniel says today they have over 60 sworn officers.

“The existing facility we have is too small, too cramped. There is just not enough space. And the space is just dated for the way a modern police force operates," Verniel said.

A project that's long been talked about could start to become a reality 2018.

"The time is right to look at building a new facility at the Police Department,” Verniel said.

Expected to cost a little more than $16 million, the expansion needed will won't be possible on the current Clay Street site

"We've looked in the past to see if we could put it on this existing site and there just isn't enough space on this site,” Verneil said.

Verniel said they plan to build on the vacant property that once was the old Blacksburg Middle School.     

The design is expected to begin next year and could include much more for the public.

"They are looking at office space, a hotel, potentially a police station, parking garage and then some outdoor plaza areas that will be open to the public and then on the back of the property will transition into residential,” Verneil said.

The police station will be the first project taken on. Construction could begin in 2020.

The tax increase is being considered by the Town Council to pay for project. The same increase was considered in years past to pay for the purchase of land that the old Blacksburg High School building sits on. That property was later purchased by an investment group.

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