Mark Taylor
Special to The Gardner News
Edgerton city council members are considering moving the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office into the city’s library building.
The council earlier this month agreed to continue discussions to move the sheriff’s office out of the the current building it occupies due to structural deficiencies.
The city has contracted patrol services with the sheriff’s office since 1995.
“What happened is we got a request from the sheriff’s department to do some testing (on the building),” said City Administrator Beth Linn. “We did confirm that there was some mold in the building, and then investigated what options were open.
“We visited with the library, and they were interested in sharing space with the sheriff’s department.”
Linn said the council will further discuss the move in April.
“Then we will move forward with a solution,” she said.
The city of Edgerton owns both the sheriff’s building and the library building.
Services for each are contracted through the county.
Linn said the city’s contract with the sheriff’s office requires that the city provide office space for sheriff’s office personnel.
She said that since the structural deficiencies were identified, deputies have worked out of their cars and the Johnson County Fire District 1 building,
Linn said library and sheriff’s officials believe the arrangement would be mutually beneficial.
“I do think it goes back to the concept of community policing,” she said. “The sheriff’s department would be more approachable.”
Linn said she has been in contact with library officials, who have assured her that a merger would not have a negative impact on the Edgerton library branch.
“I visited with the new library director,” she said. “He expressed that he did not anticipate closing the Edgerton library as a result of any budgetary measure any time soon. He understood that it (the library) is a cornerstone of the community.”
Edgerton’s library branch was spared from the chopping block last year following budget trimming discussions at the county level.
Edgerton pays more than $72,000 each in library taxes, yet according to the library board, the county’s cost to serve the city is $19,000.
Linn added that the city may have to incur some construction costs if the council agrees to move the sheriff’s office into the library.
“Part of the reason we didn’t take a vote (in March) is because we don’t know the cost yet,” she said. “We are expecting a formal vote when we know the scope of the costs.”
Edgerton contracts full time patrol services from the sheriff’s office for about $250,000 per year.
The city’s patrol deputies cover a zone roughly bounded by Homestead Lane, 159th Street, and the Miami and Douglas County lines.
The contract requires a deputy to patrol within that zone at all times, unless they are called to leave for backup in another zone.