Gage County announced plans on Wednesday to buy the Buss Stop filling station next to the jail.
The board unanimously approved the agreement to buy the land and building at 620 N. Sixth St., directly north of the jail, for $250,000.
County Board member John Hill said the two lots being purchased and part of a third have a total assessed value of $238,000.
The property will be bought with inheritance tax dollars. That fund currently has around $1.8 million available.
The county intends to primarily use the building for evidence storage, as the result of a space shortage in the current sheriff’s office.
Attorney Jim Nelson, who handled the agreement, said the purchase includes the non-consumable items in the building.
“Quite frankly, the only thing that’s not included in the agreement is the alcohol, pop and snacks,” he said. “Shelving, ice machine, coolers, it’s whatever you guys want to do with them.”
Sheriff Millard “Gus” Gustafson said he hopes the department can use the current cooling equipment to store temperature-sensitive items.
“The smaller coolers we can use for blood, DNA, urine, things like that, to keep cool,” he said. “We have an old refrigerator now. The big cooler, if we don’t use it, we’ll shut that down and use it for drying racks for marijuana and still store evidence in there. It’s laid out fairly decent for us to use it.”
He added vehicles and other equipment may be stored at the location, but there are no definite plans for how the building will be used, other than for evidence storage.
Nelson added the agreement includes safeguards against any issues with the tanks at the building, and another inspection will be conducted in the coming months.
The purchase has a closing date of Jan. 5, 2018.
Board member Matt Bauman stressed that the property was not being purchased with a new jail in mind.
“The county has no plans, no discussion for any jail,” he said. “We have had discussions for the viability of storing appropriate evidence. That’s been an issue with the sheriff for some time and we think proximity is appropriate here. It’s not a jail.”
Hill reiterated this, saying the location would not be suitable to house inmates, even though dozens of Gage County inmates are being held elsewhere due to a lack of cells available.
“We see a need for more beds in our facility than we have and we’re working out ways to deal with it,” he said. “At this time, there are no more current plans to build a jail than there were when I first got on this board.”