Tuolumne County Sheriff Bill Pooley was given permission on Tuesday to rent new facilities for his office’s patrol, investigations, civil coroner and evidence storage divisions.
The county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the lease agreement with Sunrise Hills Business Plaza for a commercial building at 19890 Cedar Road in Sonora that will cost about $123,650 a year, as well as $110,250 to remodel.
“It’s hard to quantify some of the other things it would give us in terms of recruitment, retention, and morale,” Pooley said of the new facilities.
Annual rental costs for the current facilities on Elm Street and North Washington Street in Sonora are just under $67,780, in addition to about $1,200 for repairs.
The patrol division has been housed in a portable building on Elm Street since 1998 that was only intended to be a temporary location for three years.
Evidence storage is in a building also on Elm Street that lacks a backup power generator and has water leaks.
“We’ve lost evidence on a drug case due to the fact we can’t do simple things like keep water out of our building,” Pooley said.
Pooley said the investigation building at 400 N. Washington St., which is owned by the City of Sonora, is probably in the best shape out of the three but also has problems with water leaks that have caused black mold.
The plan is to be moved into the new facilities by July 1.
Other options were explored by Pooley and his staff, but they determined the costs added up to more than the lease and remodeling of the building on Cedar Road.
The Sheriff’s Office administrative staff will remain in the same building at 28 Lower Sunset Drive in Sonora, which is owned by the county.
County Supervisor Sherri Brennan noted the issues with the buildings “put an asterisk” on the need for permanent new Sheriff’s facilities at the Law and Justice Center off Old Wards Ferry Road, which are expected to take at least four years to complete.