Sheriff’s office to rent space from fire department
County commissioners agree that the sheriff’s office needs a substation in western Union County. But they’re divided about how to pay for it.
During their Monday, Nov. 21 meeting, commissioners voted 3 to 1, with Tracy Kuehler dissenting, to allow the sheriff’s office to pay $2,000 monthly to set up in an unused portion of the new fire station on Waxhaw-Indian Trail Road.
“I understand the need,” Kuehler said. “What struck me is the building is basically paid for by taxpayers. The taxpayers are paying twice.”
Kuehler’s concern comes from the fact that the Wesley Chapel Volunteer Fire Department is funded through a fire tax of local residents. Since the sheriff’s office also depends on tax dollars, she didn’t understand why residents would be paying rent for the same facility they paid to build.
The building, still under construction, will cover 24,000 square feet when finished in the next few months. The sheriff’s office will pay to lease 4,250 square feet of that building, to use for three individual offices, a reception area, two interview rooms, computer equipment and storage. The sheriff’s office also will use the facility to house detectives, civil officers, narcotics officers and others.
Commissioner Todd Johnson pointed out that the agreement with the Wesley Chapel Fire Department is the same one in place with the school system.
“It’s the same issue I had with the schools, but we pay them,” Johnson said. County residents pay the debt to build the schools, Johnson said, but then if the county wants the property back at any point, they have to pay for it.
“The sheriff’s got to have an office somewhere,” commissioner Jonathan Thomas said. “I understand Commissioner Kuehler’s concern but I feel it’s the nature of the beast in this situation.”
The initial lease will run for six months, from Jan. 1 to June 30. Then on July 1, it converts to an annual lease, that either party can terminate with 90 days notice. The sheriff’s office allocated money in this year’s budget for the $2,000 per month payment, so officials didn’t have to make adjustments.