Sheriff wants new cars

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office is putting off the hiring of a much-needed officer so that it can buy desperately needed cars.

The total cost of the vehicles is $106,029. The department is eligible for a $50,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, and has to come up with the other $56,029.

“This is an excellent opportunity to replace a majority of the aged fleet of police vehicles that our first responders use daily to serve the citizens of Lunenburg County,” Sheriff Arthur Townsend Jr. wrote in a letter to supervisors. “These vehicles have plagued our budget as repairs and maintenance are costing more than what many of these vehicles are worth as well as a safety hazard to the (deputies) driving them.”

Townsend outlined his plan at a Lunenburg County Board of Supervisor meeting.

The grant has been approved, but is pending funding, which is not guaranteed to be available after September.

He said he would delay filling the deputy’s position for a year “to help fund this much-needed project.”

The hiring delay will mean a savings of $45,600 toward the vehicles.

“Not filling this position will put a strain on the department, but barring any unforeseen major accidents, illness or employee separation, (it) should be manageable,” he wrote.

In addition, Townsend is moving $10,429 from the vehicle equipment and purchase and police supplies budget line items.

“I would ask that if for whatever reason the anticipated USDA funds do not become available, the savings from the vacant position still be used to purchase two new police vehicles,” he noted.

In addition, Townsend asked the board to create a capital improvement fund for his office.

“I would like to see any funds not spent from our vehicle equipment and purchase and police supply line items in the future, and any proceeds from the sale of our out-of-service police vehicles, be placed into this capital improvement fund,” he wrote. “This would at least provide a long-term solution of replacing a police vehicle every two or three years.”