AUBURN — Voters could have the final say next year in a plan to overhaul Auburn’s public safety buildings.

Officials on Monday said that a proposed $27 million project to build a combined police and fire headquarters on Minot Avenue would likely head to referendum next November.

The plan, which comes after a study looked at public safety buildings citywide, also calls for building an Engine 2 station on South Main Street, and renovating the Engine 5 facility on Center Street.

If ultimately approved, the Police Department would move out of Auburn Hall, which according to the report, was only meant to be a five-year solution until a new police headquarters could be built. The department has been at Auburn Hall for 13 years.

Police Chief Jason Moen said Monday that Auburn Hall was never designed to be a police department, and that the department is scattered between the basement and the third floor. He said moving to Minot Avenue “would bring us closer to the center of city,” where response times would be about equal.

Auburn’s police department was relocated to Auburn Hall from 1 Minot Ave.

Moen said the most recent study was conducted after the city initially sought bids for some renovation work for the Police Department at Auburn Hall. When the bids came back higher than expected, the funds were instead used for a more in-depth study.

That study found that the best option for creating a public safety campus in the city is to expand the Central Fire station with a police station and expanded fire station.

Fire Chief Robert Chase said a new bay on the building’s west side would support a tower truck, which is housed at the Engine 5 facility. Chase said the floor at Central Fire does not hold the weight of the tower truck, but a new addition would “have a structure that accommodates it.”

Chase also said the challenges at all three fire facilities are the need for separate living and work spaces from equipment and garage bays, where there are diesel fumes.

Members of the council were largely supportive of the plan Monday.

The six-year plan would begin with the construction of Engine 2, then move on to the Minot Avenue campus.

City Manager Phil Crowell said the next move for the council will be forming a building committee for the entire project, which he said he hopes could have some 20 people.

“Good, strong citizen participation would be important. There’s a lot here,” he said.

City staff said a plan will be formulated over then next few years for when the Police Department moves out of Auburn Hall.

Mayor Jason Levesque estimated that, once approved, the $27 million in bonding would represent a $1.5 million annual increase in the city’s debt over the following 20 years.

This year’s budget includes $200,000 for design work related to the project.

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