Friday, February 25, 2011

$3 million for life in the fast lane

Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones, left, needs about 200 cars to get “back online.”

Unfortunately for the administration that means about $3.2 million (and that's just for this year) – at a time when they, themselves, are trying to find at least $3 million to balance the upcoming budget.

Still, there's always the county's $50 million reserve fund, the sheriff says.

“It just makes great business sense and it's also fiscally sound because that what the rainy-day fund is for - non-recurring capital expenses,” he said. “This is not a luxury item. For law enforcement to be effective, we have to have vehicles. They're one of the most essential tools we have. The ones we have now are in pretty bad shape – we're driving thousands of miles a month on them and in all kinds of conditions and at all kinds of speeds.”

Here's the deal:

The sheriff on Monday will ask the county commission to dip into the rainy day fund, so he can buy 100 patrol cars. The vehicles cost about $2.2 million, but he needs another $1.1 million for emergency equipment, like lights, sirens, radios, cages and cameras, to update them.

However, if "JJ" wants those Crown Victoria's, he has to act now. The check needs to be sent – and quickly – to the Murfreesboro dealership (that's where the company that won the state bid to supply police cars resides) by March 1.

Or the company will sell them to another agency. ("JJ" had them put on hold early. Smart guy.)

The sheriff said he currently has 278 marked cars. Of those, 125 have more than 100,000 miles on them. But, he needs about 205 new ones. The sheriff says the plan – he hopes – is to get 100 of them now. Then wait a year, and get the other 105.

Why wait, I asked.

Apparently, this is the last year for the Crown Vic's current model. Next year, Ford will come out with the Police Interceptor.

“We don't want to be saddled with them because in the first year there are always recalls,” Jones said. “We want to wait a year and do some research.”

Meanwhile, it looks like the administration is about to get saddled with another request for money.

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