COVINGTON - The Newton County Sheriff's Office will open an annex on Salem Road in west Newton.
Sheriff Ezell Brown received permission from the Board of Commissioners Tuesday night to open the facility at 3665 C Salem Road, in a shopping center at the intersection of Salem and Kirkland roads. The BOC approved a five-year lease agreement.
Initially, the annex will house administrative staff and will primarily be available for citizens to obtain accident and incident reports, although deputies will come and go after hours, Brown said. Eventually, the annex will likely operate 24 hours with deputies based there.
The rent and utilities will be paid for through forfeited drug funds, Brown said.
"I think this is a good opportunity to put proceeds we receive from criminals to good use and put them back into the community," he said.
Brown said the annex will also be beneficial for citizens who currently "have to drive 20 miles across town just to pick up reports."
Both the local and federal forfeited funds keep a reserve of $55,000, according to Brown. Currently, the local fund balance as of Sept. 18 was $57,085.67 and the federal fund balance was $68,865.86 with pending seizure payments of $20,372.40 for total of more than $89,000.
"We have funds available on hand as we speak for the entire duration of the five years," Brown said.
The total cost of the lease and utility costs over the five year lease is an estimated $42,000. Brown said the property owner, listed on the lease as Health Club LLC, was willing to work with the NCSO and negotiate a reduced rate. The landlord is donating $1,800 per month to offset rental costs.
Utilities are expected to average between $300 and $500 a month, or roughly $6,000 annually.
The initial term of the lease is from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, with an automatic renewal on Jan. 1 for calendar years 2013 through 2016 and one eight-month term from January through August 2017.
No payments will be due in October or November, with an initial rent payment of $1,950 due in December, according to the rental agreement. Rent will increase incrementally over the lease term to a high of $2,100 per month by the end of the term.
More than 80 percent of the NCSO's call volume is from the western side of the county, Brown said. Eventually, the annex location there will help the sheriff's office to shorten response time to that area, he added.
"It will generate a safety net, or a perception of a safety net for this particular area," he said.
Existing NCSO administrative staff will be transferred to the annex and the sheriff's office already has all the needed furniture on hand, Brown said.
Commissioner J.C. Henderson said he hopes the county will open other satellite offices in the western part of the county.
"Having been over to that particular area, I think there's a need for the sheriff's office to have a facility in that particular area," he said.
Brown could not be reached for comment Wednesday regarding when the facility is expected to open.