By Amanda Amsel
At a recent Prairie Township meeting, the board approved a one-year contract to continue service with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
The retroactive contract began Jan. 1, 2015 and will end Dec. 31, 2015. The township will pay the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office $66,296.
“This service will include one car, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and second car 16 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Tracy Hatmaker, township administrator. “This agreement gives our township a little more protection than what we would get if we did not pay for this service.”
Township residents expressed their confusion about the contract since last year, the township approved a request to enter into a real estate agreement thought to benefit the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
In November, the township entered into a real estate contract to purchase 165 North Murray Hill Road. The township was then going to lease the building to the sheriff’s office for approximately $109,000 a year. The fees the township pays the county for service would be deducted from the lease and the sheriff’s office would pay the difference.
“After we entered into this contract, we learned that the sheriff’s office was going to have to bid out this project,” Hatmaker said. “However, the contract the township entered was contingent on an agreement with the sheriff’s office, so we are not on the hook for this building.”
The sheriff’s office approached the township about purchasing the building as a location for a substation. However, after the process began, they were notified by the Franklin County Commissioners that the project would have to go out to bid.
“As soon as we can bid on this project, the township plans to,” Hatmaker said. “The township feels that we can still help the sheriff reach the best solution and we are looking forward to submitting our proposal.”
If an agreement is reached, the township plans to purchase the 8,400 square foot building for $690,000. After renovating the building, the total cost for the project would be around $1 million.
As part of the original agreement, after 20 years the building will be paid off and according to Hatmaker, the township will own the building. If the county wanted to walk away at that time, the township would essentially get the building for free.
“We still think we have the best solution for the sheriff’s office with this building,”
Hatmaker said. “We are optimistic that an agreement will be made.”