CHARLESTON - The new-car smell in Mississippi County Sheriff's Department patrol vehicles may be a thing of the past.
Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said during the regular meeting Thursday that he would like to see the county stop buying new $20,000 cars for the sheriff's department and start buying used vehicles. "I'd rather spend $8,000 and take my chances," he said.
A couple of the sheriff's department cruisers have a lot of miles on them, Blumenberg said, including one with about 80,000 miles. "We've got one of them that's giving us a lot of problems," he reported.
Blumenberg said he is in favor of purchasing used cars from the Highway Patrol. There is a usually a big price drop at about 50,000 miles, he said, but he doesn't want anything with mileage much over that.
Commissioner Homer Oliver said another option is to check with a local car dealer for vehicles that were part of rental fleets.
The Patrol puts about 20,000 miles per year on their vehicles, Blumenberg said. Most of that is highway mileage on them, County Clerk Junior DeLay said. "And they've been maintained," Blumenberg added.
Considering the cost of major repairs, "extended warranties aren't that expensive," DeLay said.
Blumenberg said the county also needs to sell the old vehicles once they are replaced.
In other Mississippi County business:
* County commissioners reviewed ending fund balances and looked over other figures during their public hearing for the preliminary 2004 county budget conducted Thursday along with the regular County Commission meeting.
During his "brief rundown of last year" for the hearing, DeLay noted several funds ended this year with less than they started the year with.
The ending fund balance for the general revenue fund dropped $2,842 from its beginning balance of $689,021 on the first of the year to $686,178 on Dec. 31.
Expenditures from this fund included $406,000 in transfers to other funds such as the Law Enforcement Sales Tax fund which received $352,000 from general revenue.
The Law Enforcement Sales Tax fund showed one of the most drastic ending fund balance drops of $27,976. "Revenues, excluding transfers, were down," DeLay said of the fund.
"General revenue will look better this year than last year," DeLay predicted, explaining mapping expenditures for the assessor's office will drop from about $103,000 in 2003 to roughly $25,000 this year.
Commissioners also looked over expenditures in the road and bridge fund.
"I know where it went," Blumenberg said. An increase in the price of clay gravel was noted as well as larger gravels. "The big rock killed us," Oliver said.
Blumenberg said the amount spent by the road and bridge department in 2003 is "not livable" for the county.
Budget requests are due by Jan. 15, according to DeLay, who reported having received only three so far.
* Commissioner Martin Lucas said the county needs to purchase additional user licenses for the county's GIS mapping software so it can be used by other departments that could make use of its features.
They also agreed to have soil grade, flood plain and rural addressing layers added.
Lucas suggested a flood plain layer "so Junior can look at it and say if you're in a flood zone or not."
With a rural addressing layer, a cursor can be used on the map to determine "the exact amount of feet," DeLay said. "Right now you're just getting in the general area."
As there are 1000 numbers per mile for addressing, it breaks down to 5.28 feet per number.
Blumenberg said many rural homes do not have addresses posted "and then they gripe when the ambulance can't find them."
* Blumenberg said the county should assist East Prairie this year with removing their old swimming pool as previously promised.
"We're going to tear it out," he said.
* Commissioners will remind Road and Bridge Department personnel it was the commission's intent to have the Johnson grass spraying trucks parked in the off season, not used for errands.
* Bids are due at 5 p.m. Wednesday for the clean out of Maple Slough, according to DeLay. Contractors will be asked to dig from the west bank for the project.
* DeLay reported receiving a check for $2,500 from the St. James Drainage District.