Ashley County is 939 square miles in size, and that means the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department puts a lot of miles on its vehicles.
Six of the sheriff’s department’s vehicles have a combined 1.2 million miles on them. Another five has approximately 150,000 miles on the odometer.
Only six vehicles in the sheriff’s department’s fleet have fewer than 100,000 miles.
“We live in them,” Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon told the Ashley County Quorum Court’s budget committee Thursday. “We try to make them last as long as they can.
Of the vehicles with higher mileage, three are a make — the law enforcement officer-outfitted Chevrolet Tahoe — that seem to lose their transmissions at 280,000 miles like clockwork, Sturgeon said.
“I can guarantee those Tahoes will go down this year,” he said.
The sheriff’s office requested $107,000 in its budget for three vehicles this year. Sturgeon said he would purchase them used but with low mileage on them from Holt Automotive in Crossett.
The requested funds also include outfitting them for law enforcement use,” he said.
“I buy used trucks from Holt (because) you are spending your tax money local,” he said.
“If I ordered them right now from state bid, I am a minimum of six months out.”
Justice Jeff Langley, who chairs the budget committee, said the quorum wasn’t opposed to filling the budget request, but that the justice would have to figure out how they were going to pay for the vehicles. A key issue will be deciding financing, he said.
Sturgeon said he could purchase one of the vehicles at the beginning of the year and wait to buy the rest.
“I can order one in January and then we can have it on the road,” he said. “We can take one of the Tahoes out, park it in the back and have it for a spare until one of the other ones goes out, because I can guarantee you they will go out.”
The sheriff also told the committee that he would like to get rid of the old vehicles when he replaces them.
“I am for trading them in,” he said. “That is better than stockpiling them out here and letting dirt grow around them.”
The committee members ultimately agreed to let the sheriff purchase the vehicles as needed and then come back to the quorum to decide how to finance them.