A $4.2 million land purchase approved by City Council members Wednesday night is more than just the largest property purchase in the brief 2 1/2-year history of Salt Lake County's newest city.

It is also a historic step that will ensure Taylorsville of a centrally located "city center" in years to come, providing a home for the city offices and justice court and other city operations.The council voted 5-0 to purchase 19.5 acres near 5400 South and 2700 West at a cost of $215,384 per acre.

Mayor Janice Auger, who said the city has been working on acquiring the property for months, said the purchase is consistent with Taylorsville's budget, general plan and strategic goals.

"In my opinion, it is the best piece of open property available in the city at this time," she said.

Auger indicated the property is in "the dead center" of the city, making it ideal as a future city center. Taylorsville's present City Hall is located in a small strip mall at 2520 W. 4700 South.

Council members instructed the mayor to move ahead with the "due diligence" phase of the purchase, scheduling an environmental report and property survey.

Two brick homes and a frame house on the property will continue to be used for a period of time while the city develops plans and identifies future funding sources for the city complex.

Auger said the property is a piece of well-maintained farmland that will be relatively easy to develop when the time comes.

But the decision to spend that much money for a piece of land did not come easy for Council Chairman Bruce Wasden.

"I laid awake all night worrying about $4 million," he confessed shortly before the vote.

"Only one night?" asked the mayor, who also spent a good share of her time analyzing the magnitude of the expenditure.

Council members stressed they have not yet made a specific decision on exactly how the property will be used.