Atlanta officials: Taxpayers won’t pay more for training center

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(The Center Square) — Atlanta officials on Wednesday reaffirmed that city taxpayers will not be responsible for additional costs related to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, which has been the scene of often violent opposition.

In June 2023, the Atlanta City Council approved spending $31 million on the project.

City officials said opposition to the center, which is more than 75% complete, has increased its overall cost by $19.6 million to $109.6 million. According to a city news release, the incremental costs include $6 million for additional security and $400,000 for insurance increases.

“We are moving forward as planned and not allowing distractions to deter us from improving the safety of Atlantans by completing the public safety training center,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in an announcement.

“We have intentionally worked to incorporate the voice of the people, garnering strong support from the majority of our citizens who actively contributed valuable recommendations and feedback to this effort,” the mayor added. “The public persistently asks us to keep them safe from fire, violence and medical emergencies and we deployed strategies that contributed to Atlanta achieving one of the highest reductions in violence among major cities in America.”

The center has been the target of often violent attacks, and officials said they have made more than 173 arrests. Of the more than 80 “criminal instances,” 23 were acts of arson that destroyed 81 pieces of equipment, including Atlanta Police Department motorcycles, and officials said opponents also firebombed a local youth crime diversion program.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp highlighted the training center during his State of the State address last week while stressing “the importance of reducing crime and keeping our citizens safe.”

“Bipartisan majorities of both chambers, the mayor, and myself all agree on the critical need for the completion of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center,” the governor said. “This facility will provide our law enforcement officers, firefighters and additional first responders the critical tools, knowledge, and skills needed to keep themselves and our communities safe.”

Occupancy of the training center is projected to start in late 2024.

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