Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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The Logan County Board is discussing offering this strip of property on the Broadway side of the Logan County Safety Complex to the city of Lincoln to build a police department.

New fiscal year, new board - Logan County Board opens year discussing a give-away to the city

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[December 17, 2014]  LINCOLN - During the Logan County board's first meeting of all committees in the new fiscal year, the Workshop on Thursday, Dec. 11th, the board entertained an offering to the city of Lincoln.

Buildings and Grounds chairman Kevin Bateman said that the committee had discussed offering the now grass area on the Broadway side of the Logan County Public Safety Complex to the city of Lincoln for use to build a new police department.

The city currently has its police department co-located in the complex shared with the Sheriff's Department, the city and county jail, the 911 Joint Dispatch, Logan County Emergency Management Agency and the state EMCOM service.

The Lincoln Police Department has become cramped for space, but there is no where to expand its offices in the complex. The city has been considering building elsewhere. A new city fire department location has also been in the mix and it has also been considered to combine the two departments in one location.

Bateman said that his committee liked the idea and he hoped the rest of the board would too. "It is a good faith measure, what's best for the city and the county. Space they need for the police department and close proximity to the jail, for public safety reasons."

In discussing some of the legal aspects, board members agreed together that a sunset clause should be put down, but that it would likely be renewable. The offer would stand for three years.

The only concern might be the outside "footprint," how the traffic pattern around the building might be affected as it is nearest to the intake side for the jail.

The only stipulations would be that blueprints for the external traffic pattern be approved by the sheriff for safety reasons, and subject to the approvals of the county and city lawyers.

The matter was put on the agenda for the board's Tuesday, Dec. 16, Regular session to vote.

On Tuesday evening, the Logan County board met to continue the discussion of donating land to the city for the purpose of building a Lincoln City Police Complex.

Kevin Bateman began by making a motion to donate the land in question, which is located at 911 Pekin Street in Lincoln. Emily Davenport provided a second, and so the discussion continued from Thursday.

Bateman said he had spoken with several members of the board since Thursday night. Bateman said the board members he had spoken with indicated that a simple way of handling this idea would be pass the motion this month, with the understanding that a committee would be created to meet with the city to work out more specific details should the offer be accepted.

"Instead of trying to put stipulations and facts and figures on it at this time, let's just wait and see if they accept it. We'll move forward at that point," said Bateman.

Gene Rohlfs said he felt the board should postpone taking such a vote. Rohlfs said he would like to see the city show an interest in the property first, as well as be able to provide conceptual information on what they would build. Rohlfs made a motion to do so, and Scott Schaffenacher was a second.

Bateman said that the intent of his motion on Tuesday was to provide the same opportunity for the city to respond. "That was the point of the original motion; we would not move forward until the city came forth," said Bateman. "Right now, we're just trying to make a motion that if they would like land there, we as the county agree to donate land to them."

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Rick Aylesworth asked if the city had come forward with any interest so far. Bateman said Keith Snyder was present at the Building and Grounds Committee this month, and he appreciated the idea, and the city would strongly consider the idea. Jan Schumacher added that the city could add this idea to a list of possibilities considered by an architectural firm as part of designing a new complex.

Schaffenacher said that he thinks donating the land might not work the best for the county. "I think we should bargain with them, instead of just donating it. We're not a charity," said Schaffenacher.

Bateman said the reason this would be a donation is because the county is not making any money by holding on to it. "We're actually paying money to maintain it," said Bateman. "It would be of no benefit to charge them anything, it would just be trying to work out a better arrangement for both parties."

Schaffenacher asked if the city has budgeted for the building of a new complex. Bateman said that he knows the city has looked at several properties so far, but they have not found any good locations. "It would make complete sense for officers to transport prisoners within close proximity to the jail," said Bateman.

Jan Schumacher said she is not sure if the city has budgeted for this or not, but from the city's perspective it is difficult to find land to use without taking away from tax funds.

Chuck Ruben said it seems that the city is likely going to begin the project sometime around the end of 2016. "They probably don't have the money budgeted because it would be beyond their current budget," said Ruben.

"This is just a good faith effort," said Bateman.

A vote was taken on Rohlf's amendment to postpone. The amendment failed with a vote of eight-to-four, with Schaffenacher, Aylesworth, Rohlfs, and Blankenship voting to postpone.

Following the failed amendment, the main motion was voted on. The motion passed nine-to-three, with Blankenship, Rohfls, and Schaffenacher voting no.

Aside from the land offer, the board members also discussed the time and rate on the current lease for the city to rent space in the county Safety Complex.

Ruben said he and David Hepler had spoken with Keith Snyder and the Lincoln city police chief on an agreement for a new lease. Ruben said the lease would be written using previously existing language. "The only thing changing would be the starting and ending date, and the amount of the lease," said Ruben.

Currently, the city pays $2512 each month. With the six percent increase proposed in the lease, the value would become $2740. This lease would run from the 1st of February in 2015 through December 31st of 2016.

Ruben moved to approve of the lease, and Pat O'Neill was the second. The board members voted unanimously to approve the new lease.

Board members present at the Tuesday meeting were Chairman David Hepler, Chuck Ruben, Gene Rohlfs, Robert Farmer, David Blankenship, Pat O’Neill, Andy Anderson, Emily Davenport, Kevin Bateman, Jan Schumacher, Rick Aylesworth and Scott Schaffenacher.

[Derek Hurley/Jan Youngquist]

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