The Missoula Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously agreed to amend a buy-sell agreement with Western Montana Mental Health Center to purchase land and buildings located at 140 N. Russell to serve as a new county election center.

The original agreement, approved on July 19 with an appraised value of $1.87 million, only included the main building, which housed the health center before it moved 1321 Wyoming St. three weeks ago, and did not include the warehouse and associated land.

The amendment includes the warehouse, with an updated appraisal value of $2.78 million.  The date of closing is Oct. 9, “or sooner,” in accordance with the amended terms. A resulting tax increase will equal about $3 a year for those with a $300,000 home. 

“We have a real need for this space,” said County Commissioner Chairman Dave Strohmaier. “It’s centrally located, has adequate parking, and is a good spot.” 

In addition to serving as offices and a space where citizens can vote -- and where officials can tabulate and process ballots -- the 7,711-square-foot building will also serve as storage and training space for the county sheriff’s department, and provide space for emergency services. 

The county also plans to build a 4,400-square-foot addition to the main building, which could add another $450,000 to the costs.  

Currently, elections are held at the County Fairgrounds and courthouse, but as the number of voters and absentee ballots continue to increase, the county needs a better, more efficient space to accommodate staff, volunteers and parking.