Sheriff Sexton asks LCC for new cruisers

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

"Are you in a giving mood today?" Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton said and smiled as he asked Lawrence County Commissioners Thursday.

The jovial question got an amused chuckle but Sexton - and his plight - were in fact quite serious: He needs new cruisers to keep deputies on the road and off the roadside.

Sexton requested money to purchase 10 new cruisers to replace the most outdated ones in his fleet, 14 of which reached the 100,000-mile mark a long time ago. His own budget is too limited to allow for any new expenditures.

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One car, used daily, is a 1999 Ford with 198,283 miles. The jail van, used to haul prisoners, has clocked 156,000 miles.

Right now, five cars need major repairs. A 1994 Ford with 146,820 miles needs a new transmission and a 1999 Ford needing an engine has clocked 171,187 miles.

Each new cruiser costs $26,379; 10 would total $263,790. On a four-year payback plan, the county would make annual payments of $69,080.

Sexton has proposed taking the roughly $20,000 in his inmate phone service fund and applying it toward that first payment. He also contended that money saved in repair bills could be applied toward the annual cost of the new cars.

"I just don't see continuing to throw money at some of these cars," Sexton said.

"Two need engines, that's $3,400 a piece. A new cruiser means we'll pay less for repairs. Over the last five years, we've averaged $49,892 on contract repairs. I think we could reduce that by thousands of dollars if we had new cruisers."

The sheriff's office got three new cruisers a year ago when then-Lawrence County Clerk of Courts Dale Burcham forwarded money from his office to pay for the new cars.

"Please give this very, very serious consideration," Sexton said. "We have a dire situation with our cruisers. Please consider whatever you can do for us."

"We will continue to work with you as best we can," Commissioner Doug Malone said. "To me, the sheriff's office and the county commission work well together. But we're going to be

operating with $300,000 less than we did last year. We're going to have

another tough budget."

In response, Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens suggested that maybe it is time for the county to look at a new funding source for the sheriff's office.

"I don't know what the answer is," Stephens said. "Every year it gets more and more frustrating. We know you do a good job, but there's no money. This is something we need to look at as a county."