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Gallatin County commissioners are moving ahead with plans to relocate some sheriff’s office operations from Bozeman to Four Corners to free up space in the Law and Justice Center, a building they have been looking to replace for years.

The commissioners plan to sign a buy-sell agreement at a meeting on Wednesday for the Zero In Indoor Shooting Center, a 25,000 square-foot building on 6.5 acres near Jackrabbit and West Baxter lanes.

They intend to offer $5.3 million for the property, which Bozeman Brokers has listed at $5.5 million.

The county plans to use money from its $14 million capital improvements account to pay for the property, said county administrator Jim Doar.

Despite drawing down on the account, it is possible other planned capital projects will still be able to go forward because the county may be able to use coronavirus relief money it is receiving from the state to replenish the capital improvement account, Doar said.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin said he’s making plans to move more than half of his office, including the patrol and training divisions, into the Zero In building by the end of the year. Some of his office, including administrators, detectives and court security, are likely to remain in the Law and Justice Center on South 16th Street in Bozeman.

“Four Corners is one of the fastest growing parts of the county and is really the center of the universe for the county, so we’ll be able to respond to the public better if we have an office there,” Gootkin said.

The sheriff’s office relocation would make room available in the Law and Justice Center for a much-needed expansion of court services, Doar said.

Gallatin County Search and Rescue, which is working to expand its operations with money from a new voter-approved tax increase, would also move to the Zero In site, Doar said. Relocating search and rescue would open up space at the county’s emergency coordination center, which could then be used to improve the county’s backup 911 dispatch center.

There are several steps before the county can finalize a deal on the property.

After the commissioners sign the buy-sell agreement on Wednesday, they will work with other county officials to inspect the site to determine if it meets their needs and the upgrades that would be needed before county employees could move in, Doar said.

County officials will also work with the seller to determine what, if any, of the equipment inside the shooting range they would like to purchase and whether they can fulfill Zero In’s outstanding contracts with other groups for use of the range.

“Our intent — and I hope this goes without saying — is not to run a public shooting range, but there will be opportunities for law enforcement agencies to continue to train there,” Doar said.

The commissioners will also have to approve budget amendments and sign contracts before the purchase would be official.

Closing is scheduled for Oct. 29.

“Real estate in Gallatin County moves pretty fast and government moves kind of slow, so we’re trying to mesh the two of those together to make sure that we’re transparent and the public has the ability to comment on what we’re doing,” said Don Seifert, a county commissioner.

The effort to purchase the Zero In property follows voters’ rejection of a $59 million bond issue for construction of a new Law and Justice Center. The new facility would have replaced the existing building with one that would have housed the sheriff’s, coroner’s and county attorney’s offices, as well as the district and youth courts.

The commissioners don’t plan to bring a new Law and Justice Center before voters any time soon. However, relocating some of the sheriff’s office to Four Corners could reduce the ultimate cost of replacing the center by about $10 to $20 million, Doar said.

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Perrin Stein can be reached at pstein@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2648.

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