Vidalia Police Department giving away old, unused police cars to smaller towns

Published 3:23 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

VIDALIA, La. — After replacing older vehicles with new ones leased through the Enterprise Municipal Fleet Management program, Vidalia Police Department is giving away a dozen older police cars to smaller towns in the surrounding area.

Five of them are going to the Town of Ferriday; three to the Town of Jonesville; one to the Village of Clayton; and three to the Village of Waterproof.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen approved interlocal agreements Tuesday to transfer the vehicles to the other municipalities in one motion without any objections.

Email newsletter signup

Alderman Robert Gardner and Alderwoman Rosa Demby were absent.

However, Alderman Tommy Probst spoke as to why the vehicles were being given away instead of being put out for bid.

“They weren’t worth a whole lot according to the policemen that drove them,” Probst said. “They were glad to get out of them.”

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said if the vehicles were put out for bid, the town might collect $1,000 or $1,500 on each one but it would be worth a lot more to those communities who couldn’t afford other vehicles, “whether it’s a great car or not.”

“They’ve served their purpose here and we could put them out for bid. But honestly, if we go into an agreement with these smaller towns which are suffering and don’t have the money … it would be a good gesture on our part,” Craft said. “God has blessed us and we have a great police force and a safe community. I think anything we can do to help our sister towns, help them maybe get more feet on the ground and law enforcement in the area, would be a good thing. It certainly wouldn’t hurt us either.”

He added that the town has other surplus vehicles that he would recommend putting out for bid.

In other matters, the board approved a sign application for a church to meet temporarily at the Vidalia Convention Center during an ongoing renovation project.

Pastored by the Rev. Jerry Sharp Jr., Sunnyside Church began in 2005 and built its first physical building in June 2007 in Clayton, according to the church website.

Now they are renovating the church to accommodate the growing number of members and are in need of a temporary place to hold church services, Craft said.

“We feel like we can accommodate them at the convention center and they need a sign,” Craft said. “Sheriff (David) Hedrick has agreed to provide any kind of security that’s required and they will provide any insurance required. … They have a good congregation and vibrant congregation and we welcome you to Vidalia.”

The board also agreed to schedule two public hearings during the third week of August to receive public input on proposed projects and uses for surplus revenues generated from the hydroelectric plant.

The town hosted two similar meetings in August last year, which is a condition of an ordinance for expending the funds. Since then, the town has used the revenues to pay off $12 million in municipal debt, Craft said.

“We’re earning good money on our investments now and not paying an interest expense on the debt that was out there,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to have money and have debt. We haven’t forgotten those projects that were discussed last year that are still out there. Those will still be on the list and we will start over for this year.”

Officials also agreed to advertise the need of a new knuckle-boom truck for the street and sanitation department to replace one that “is not on its last legs, but it’s in the coffin,” Craft said.

In closing, Craft provided an update on summer electric rates and ongoing projects.

Street overlay is scheduled to begin around Aug. 14 for Peach, Myrtle and Elm streets, he said.

Craft said if anyone is experiencing a higher utility bill, “it’s from consumption and not the price.” He said the town’s power, which it buys from Louisiana Energy & Power Authority at market value, is three cents per kilowatt cheaper than last year, when it was priced at around 6 cents per kilowatt.

“I urge you to service your units and make sure they’re efficient,” he said, adding that while consumption is higher during the hot summer than in the fall and winter, underlying maintenance issues could also be the cause of higher utility bills.