The purchase of 57 acres of land adjacent to the new judicial complex site for $645,000 - a move that has angered county employees - was finalized Wednesday by the Davis County Commission.
The commissioners approved the purchase of the Murray-Nord property at 11th West and Clark Lane in west Farmington for $645,330. It brings the total acreage of the county-owned jail and court building site to 102 acres.The purchase announcement last month brought protests from the Davis County Employees Association (DCEA). Association president Tami Timothy said they were told in salary negotiations with the commissioners last year that the county budget is extremely tight and there is no money for merit increases.
County employees instead were given one-time payments of up to $500. That decision cost the county about $200,000. Timothy said the 3.8 percent raise the DCEA asked for would have cost about $500,000.
Timothy attended Wednesday's commission meeting, but raised no objections to the purchase. She said Thursday, however, that the DCEA board is still opposed to the purchase.
The county paid too much for the property and doesn't need the land, Timothy said.
"We were misled last year in our salary negotiations with the commissioners," said Timothy. "They told us they had no money for the merit increases. Now, they've found $600,000 and we've been shortchanged."
The money is being taken from hospital bond funds the county sold back in the late 1970s. The bonds were sold, but the money was not used to build a hospital because two private corporations stepped in instead, building Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful and Humana Hosptial Davis North in Layton.
Although county voters last fall approved an $18.5 million bond issue to build the new jail, court building and sheriff's department, that money cannot be used to buy the additional property because it was not included in the bond proposal.
Commissioner Harold Tippetts said Wednesday the county has no immediate plans for the additional 57 acres but is buying it for future expansion. The county does not want to again face the situation it finds itself in now, he said, where land around the existing courthouse and jail in downtown Farmington is unavailable for expansion.
And, Tippetts said, land around the new jail will go up in value as the county brings water, sewer and other utilities to the site. It is better to buy the land now, he said, then to have to pay more for it in the future when the county's own improvements have pushed up the price.
Tippetts has indicated in the past the additional property may be used as the county fair site and for equestrian activities.
Two other county-owned parcels of property in Kaysville, a 142-acre piece originally acquired as a fair site and 10 acres adjacent to a golf course, are up for sale.