WAXAHACHIE — Some things get better with age. Unfortunately, vehicles driven by the Ellis County Sheriff's Office and other county departments are not among those items.
On Tuesday, Ellis County commissioners addressed the issue of aging high-mileage vehicles by approving a $720,000 budget amendment from the county's fund balance to replace vehicles in the departments.
“This is a topic that we have talked about in our budget workshops. I believe that it is the intent of the court to move forward with the purchase of vehicles for the county with the thought of implementing a fleet policy for the sheriff’s office and our various offices,” County Judge Carol Bush said. “We are fortunate to have the funds to be able to work with out of this current budget. I would like to ask that we approve the amount. Six hundred and thirty thousand dollars would be allocated for the sheriff’s office and the remaining amount would be for other county vehicles.”
According to the Edmunds automotive website, the cost of a 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe ranges from $48,410 to $72,195, depending on the package selected.
In comparison, purchasing documents from the Waxahachie Police Department show the base cost of a 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe Police Vehicle to be about $32,615. However, when fully outfitted with police equipment, the final purchase price ranges from $55,000 to $65,000.
Some of the equipment in this final price includes items such as the radar system ($1,980), video camera system ($6,200) and emergency lights ($3,800). Installation of the equipment also costs about $1,800 per unit.
Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said the reason a person might see a lower price in some areas is that the government offers a competitive bid price on vehicles that are less than the market price.
Ellis County Pct. 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson said the main reason for the purchase is because the sheriff’s office patrol fleet is aging.
“There have been some significant issues with the Dodge Chargers and the repairs that need to be made. Because of the financial standing of the county, we felt that it would be a good time to make that investment to the emergency response vehicles. It was just time,” Grayson explained. “There is no big magic reason for this other than the fleet is aging and the miles are high. We want to make sure that our first responders have the equipment that they need to operate safely and respond to our citizens.”
According to a Daily Light article from Aug. 11, 2015, the sheriff’s office previously parked 10 2010 Dodge Charger patrol cars due to a recall issued by Fiat-Chrysler related to a defective airbag. The vehicles were part of more 30 million vehicles in the U.S. being recalled at the time.
Grayson stated that it is the responsibility of the commissioners’ court to make sure it provides adequate finical resources so the sheriff’s office can replace the vehicles that are not up to standard. He added that the number of vehicles that the sheriff’s office is looking to replace through this ranges from six to eight, depending on how they are outfitted with equipment.
Grayson said the county has been exploring adopting a fleet policy, which would help to manage equipment. It would help to track when a vehicle needs to be retired, transferred to another department for additional use and when a new vehicle needs to be purchased. He added that this policy would help to prevent large lump sums like this being spent in the future.
In other business the county,
• Approved a final plat of the Sneed’s Place Development located in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Grand Praire.
• Approved a final plat of phase two of Oak Vista Estates located north of Farm-to-Market Road 1446.
• Approved to relapse a performance bond totaling $932,585 and accepted a maintenance bond totaling $373,034.
• Approved to grant a one-time variance from the county rules and regulations and specifications for subdivisions and manufactured homes to allow for two structures to encroach into the building line and utility easement. These buildings are located west of the intersection of Melanie Lane and India Road in Ferris.
• Approved to grant a one-time variance from the county rules and regulations and specifications for subdivisions and manufactured homes to allow one structure to encroach into the building line and utility easement. The building is located at 107 Shoreside Train in Ferris.
• Approved to ratify signature to grand discretionary exemption on the American Mechanical proposal for the jail air conditioning units.
• Approved terminating the agreement between the county and Conduent Government systems for firehouse software.
• Approved inter local agreement as a cooperative agency.
• Approved to accept renewal agreement for bridge and headwall repair from Neyland Construction.
• Approved exemption from the competitive bidding process as a sole source item under the local government code and to accept the renewal option agreement with Election Systems and Software for maintenance and support to the county elections voting equipment.
• Swore in Mike McCorkle as the new constable for precinct three. See an upcoming edition of the daily light for the full article.
• Recognized Joanne Olsen for her 18 years of service with the county.
• Took no action to enact a burn ban.
• Approved to refund Holcim $12,957.02 for the 2012 tax year to satisfy the final judgment.
• Approved to authorize Carol Bush, Ellis County Judge, to execute the fiscal year 2017 Audit Engagement Letter with Pattillo, Brown and Hill.
• Appointed Scott Keeler to the Midlothian Development Authority Board of Directors. Approved the fee structure for the Texas Department of Motor vehicles for 2018 calendar year.
• Approved renewal of Spectera Vision Plan for county employees.
• Approved to reappoint Randel Kirk as Director to the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors for a four-year term effective through August 2021.
• Approved to authorize the purchasing agent to enter into negotiations with Tyler Technologies for County software improvements.
• Authorize County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson to settle a property damage claim against the county for damage to a mailbox totaling $385 located at 208 Branch Trail in Waxahachie.
• Approved replacement and upgrade of Cisco call manager and voicemail servers and system for $147,030.60.