The Morgan County Council has agreed to purchase the former bus garage on State Street from the Morgan County School District for an undisclosed amount to be paid over a three-year period.
The facility will be used as storage for various county equipment including sheriff department and emergency vehicles. Presently, a majority of such equipment, valued at several hundred thousand dollars, is stored outside and subject to weather deterioration.
Chairwoman Tina Kelley cast one of two opposing votes, saying the county had other financial priorities such as replacing a boiler for the county building.
Councilman Lyle Nelson also opposed the purchase because he supports a government that is limited in size. He is worried that the county may want to expand government departments now that they have more real estate.
"I like to keep government small," he said. "In general, I am opposed to increasing the size of government, even physically."
Nelson suggested eliminating county equipment that is rarely used, reducing the county’s need for storage space.
Nelson also said that the school may have been able to get a higher purchase price by selling to a private entity, which would have produced tax revenue.
"If the school district has financial problems, they should rely on other means to solve it" than selling property to the county, Nelson said.
Councilman Ned Mecham disagreed.
"The best investment on this planet is real estate," he said. "It is a win-win situation since we can finance it over three years interest-free. The money is very minimal to the county."
The county plans on using $77,000 from impact fees to make the initial payment.
Councilman Robert Kilmer said the State Street location is much better than a location near the search and rescue gun range, where plans were at one time underway to building an animal control facility with storage for county property.
Before a vote was taken, Kelley asked Kilmer if he had a conflict of interest voting on the matter, as he is an employee of the school district. Kilmer said since his duties in the human resource department have nothing to do with real estate and he doesn’t personally benefit from the sale of the property, he did not have a conflict.