FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - It's been nine long months for Sheriff Rick Staly and his employees, who've been calling the courthouse home after they had to evacuate the Flagler County Sheriff's Operations Center, known as the "sick building."
After deputies, detectives and staff reported illnesses doctors have not been able to explain, Staly took aggressive action last year, moving all 70 employees out of the Sheriff's Office building and relocating them to the county courthouse.
"Despite all of this chaos, they delivered a 22 percent crime reduction last year. But, it's been making it much harder to work. It's making it much harder to solve cases because you need everybody together," Staly said.
The sheriff presented three options to county commissioners Thursday, in hopes of finding a long-term temporary home. Option one involves 13 modular trailers, which would cost about $4 million over five years. But, there's no return on investment, and the crime scene investigation team's processing and evidence storage facilities remain in the sick building.
"It's requiring my employees to go into this building and retrieve evidence for court and so forth and they need to stay out of this building," he said.
Option two, leases space from a vacant building that could cost $2 million over the next five years. But, there's no return on investment, and it's 15,000 square feet less than what's needed for the Sheriff's Office. The third option is to consolidate at the courthouse to just the first floor, which is a quicker and cheaper solution.
"It would be better than having my people stretched out over three floors," Staly said.
That option did not sit well with County Clerk Tom Bexley.
"Option three was a little frustrating," he said.
Bexley said he graciously welcomed the Sheriff's Office into the court building nine months ago but said it's time to explore other options.
"Believe it or not, us as public servants, that is our No. 1 obligation is to serve the taxpayers. Make sure we're spending their money wisely, and I'm not sure that option one and two are the best options, but option two is something I think is worth talking about," he said.
Staly, Bexley and interim County Administrator Jerry Cameron will discuss the options and present their recommendation to the county board in the next two weeks.
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