Quorum Court JPs gave the Phillips County Sheriff's Department the green light to pursue a federal matching grant for the purchase of new, fully equipped patrol cars at Tuesday night's session of the county legislative body.
From his presentation, it was obvious that Darrell Winston of the PCSO had done his homework. According to Winston the cost of the new vehicles will total approximately $179, 635. The grant, said Winston, will cover 65 percent, or about $98,772, of the cost.
The county will have to come up with the remaining $80,862.
“In 2012 alone, the county paid out $21, 687 in car repairs,” reported Winston. “With new cars and no repairs that is money saved that can be put back into the Sheriff's Department budget.”
Winston stressed that the department is in dire need of new vehicles. The last vehicles bought for the department were used with heavy mileage already on them. The oldest vehicles date back to 2005 (8 years old) and the most recent are 2008 models (5 years old).
Sheriff Neal Byrd noted that the new vehicles would come equipped with radar and other necessary police technology.
JP Clausey Myton said he felt there needs to be some type of guarantee that the new vehicles will be properly maintained.
“The drivers of these vehicles will be held responsible for the upkeep of the patrol cars,” said Byrd. “They will be inspected every three months.”
Winston reported that he turned in the paperwork for the grant on Tuesday. It will be up to the county to show the matching funds are available in order to receive the grant.
County officials spoke briefly concerning the status of the jail facility. Byrd said he was working hard to get the jail up to standards to pass the next regular inspection.
JP Teresa Morgan expressed concern about the City of Helena-West Helena not providing any funding for feeding and housing of city inmates.
“I don't know how much they owe us (the county),” said Morgan. “But I think they need to be paying something if it is not any more than $100 a month. I realize they have serious financial problems and I am not trying to put any additional hardship on them. However, perhaps we need to get something in writing.”
In other business, the justices approved an appropriation ordinance increasing the county's veterans service budget by $700 to $15,296 to cover the cost of general office supplies and increased the budget of the juvenile intake officer by $4,425 to $53,433 for travel expenses and meals and lodging.