A request to purchase 45 administrative cars and 17 pursuit vehicles for law enforcement was put on hold when commissioners displayed skepticism over the need for a vehicle for the county’s economic development director.
Commissioner Liz Hausmann was the first to question why a newly created department would need a replacement vehicle, since the entire list of cars to be purchased would all be replacements for those existing.
“This is an entity that was established by the board,” commission chairman John Eaves said, adding that the department is one that generates revenue.
The other departments that fall under the administrative category for vehicle purchase are general service, health, district attorney, medical examiner, cooperative extension and drug court.
“Is it really important for an economic development person to have a car?” Commissioner Bill Edwards said. “We must really consider what our priorities are versus the needs of our people.
“It’s all about service. It isn’t personal. I just want to be very careful with the impression we make.”
He said the board is facing having to make 5 percent across-the-board budget cuts during the current tough financial times.
Edwards questioned why the economic development department, above any others that don’t have county vehicles, would be more deserving.
“I’m very leery to opening that door,” he said.
Eaves made the suggestion to County Manager Zachary Williams that he make a list of requirements that justifies why some departments receive vehicles while others don’t.
“It makes sense to have some sort of grid or justification for why some departments should have vehicles over others, so that we can be consistent and fair,” he said.
Commissioner Joan Garner requested that the county manager’s report also include cost justifications for buying a new vehicle versus paying mileage on personal vehicles.
A motion was made to hold the agenda items for two additional weeks. In addition to the 45 administrative vehicles and 17 pursuit vehicles, a request to purchase a 28-passenger replacement bus was also held.
The total amount of money requested to purchase all vehicles is $1.2 million.
The motion passed 4-0 with votes from Garner, Hausmann, Eaves and Commissioner Rob Pitts. Commissioners Emma Darnell and Edwards did not vote.