A building acquisition may be on the horizon for the Monroe County Board of Supervisors.

Discussion was held about the possibility of purchasing the Ag Service Center at 820 Industrial Ave. in Sparta to consolidate some county departments under one roof.

The building is currently rented by the Monroe County Land Conservation Department and three other agencies: federal Natural Resources Conservation Department, federal Farm Service Agency and Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

If purchased, the building would also house the Monroe County Forestry, Land Information and Sanitation departments.

Tina Osterberg, Monroe County Finance director, said it’s critical to keep the three agencies in one location.

“Their daily operations are very much intertwined, which provides a better service for the Monroe County citizens that are coming in,” she said. “(Purchasing the building) would eliminate having to rent the space for those departments.”

The county would also save $181,000 annually by owning the building rather than renting, Osterberg said. A savings of $43,275 would come from not having to rent out for the county’s Land Conservation and Sanitation, Zoning and Forestry departments. Then $138,566 in savings would come from the USDA and the Department of Corrections.

The cost of purchasing the building is estimated at $1 million, plus the closing and building inspection costs.

Osterberg said payoff for the investment in the building is approximately nine years. If the county wishes to sell the building after that and build its own multi-use building, it would be marketable, she said.

The location is also favorable, Osterberg said.

“It’s not downtown, but it’s easy access for customers and workers to the county and federal services,” she said. “That frontage road that is there provides parking for the larger vehicles that come in to Sanitation, Zoning and Forestry with trailers.”

While there will be savings, there will also be expenses, Osterberg said. The roof, installed in 1999, will be need to be replaced at an estimated cost of $125,000. The parking lot will also need to be replaced in the near future, which can be done by the county’s highway department.

Also, changes will need to be made to the building to accommodate a 800-square foot building and parking lot addition requested by the Department of Corrections and office modifications for the Land Conservation Department, Farm Service Agency and Sanitation and Zoning Department.

County Administrator Jim Bialecki said there are two funding options if the county board decides to purchase — getting a loan or taking it from the general fund.

“If you look at the fiscal projections down the road, you’ve got a payback of less than 10 years,” Bialecki said. “Sooner or later you probably want to do a different type of building that could potentially house a lot of departments to include highways, but that’s down the road. You’ve got the Justice Center; Rolling Hills is going somewhere, and if anything else comes up ... when that time comes, you got one trump card here all paid for, you can get rid of to apply to the construction of a new facility.”

Osterberg said any purchase would be dependent on the results of a building inspection.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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