County makes Tahoe turnabout

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Editor’s note: The original version of this article misstated the additional fuel cost the Tahoes would require over a three-year period. The updated version is correct.

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors changed course Monday on an earlier decision and voted to advertise for bids for nine new Chevrolet Tahoes for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

The supervisors had previously agreed to replace nine aging vehicles from the ACSO’s fleet, but had told Sheriff Chuck Mayfield they would not purchase the model vehicles he requested, the Chevrolet Tahoe, for law enforcement. County Administrator Joe Murray said the reversal on that decision was based on industry research — a 2010 report from the firm Vincentric — that said the Tahoe has the lowest lifecycle cost.

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While noting that the overall maintenance of the Tahoes is more cost effective, Supervisor David Carter said it would be more costly to fuel the vehicles.

“Fuel is a little higher over a three-year span, about $600,” Carter said. “But you have a fuel budget, and you would just have to stay in that.”

Likewise, Carter said the depreciation value of the Tahoe is much higher than that of other vehicle models at which the supervisors were looking, meaning that when it is time to retire the vehicles they can be auctioned for more.

“You have to take into consideration what you are going to get for them (when they are auctioned),” Murray said. “You don’t want to get nothing for them.”

Mayfield said the bigger vehicles are needed for more effective responses and because they have more room to carry equipment.

“The type of driving the deputies do, there’s a lot of washboard dirt roads, they go a lot of places where you don’t want to take a regular car because of the suspension,” he said.

The base price for the Tahoes is $24,750 compared to the police edition Dodge Charger’s base price of $21,530,  and the supervisors noted that the final cost of the cars would be more than that when upgrades — for example, dual batteries — were added.

Some of those upgrades were necessary regardless of model, the sheriff said, using vinyl seats as an example.

“When you’re transporting people, you’ve got folks who have blood, vomit, feces (on them),” Mayfield said. “These (with vinyl seats) can be opened up and washed out.”

Law enforcement gear such as radios and equipment chargers will be transferred between vehicles, the sheriff said.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins asked if it was possible to buy the vehicles in phases, and Vice President Mike Lazarus said the county should have had a car-buying program in place. The payments for the new vehicles will be included in the budget for the next fiscal year, Lazarus said.

Mayfield said the ACSO would transfer the use of some of the working cars the Tahoes would replace to members of the office who did not patrol such as investigators.

The board voted to allow Murray to seek bids for the Tahoes to be bought on a lease-purchase program.