Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Police fleet in disrepair

Council approved using Keno funds to purchase a new vehicle

 


During the Feb. 21 City Council meeting, council heard a request for Keno funds from the Kimball Police Department for the purchase of a police vehicle.

“Our fleet is pretty worn out,” Kimball Police Chief Andy Bremer said, “We have three Crown Victorias that are in various stages of disrepair. Also, our Durango and Explorer are pretty worn out.”

One unit, a Crown Victoria, is mechanically sound but the lights and siren are non-functional.

“I have set up a regiment with Wolf Automotive for all of our cars now,” he added. “Every time I take them in for an oil changes or anything, they go through the whole car and find some other things to save us some money.”

Bremer said that because many of the juvenile facilities in western Nebraska have been shut down, the force is required to transport juvenile offenders to eastern Nebraska in aging and unreliable vehicles.

The vehicle Bremer is considering is a four wheel drive pickup that will hold its value better and will potentially last longer, as the Crown Victorias are nearly worthless once the local department is done with them.

“We priced out the vehicles for state bid,” he said.

The total amount requested for a four-door, short box, half-ton Ford with eco-boost with the police package is just under $40,000.

“I came in after the budget season,” he explained. “From this point on we will definitely be budgeting for vehicles.”

Mayor Keith Prunty added that he has contacted Mike Petko at Wolf Automotive in Kimball, and that the department will attempt to keep the purchase local if possible.

“Basically nothing has been budgeted (for the fleet) for a couple of years,” Mayor Keith Prunty said. “Last time, out of the Keno funds, we bought the two Crown Victorias from Kansas State Patrol for $16,000. We are just looking for a boost for our Police Department and then start the budgeting process for vehicles starting next year.”

Though council member Kim Baliman moved to approve the request for $40,000 from the Keno Trust fund, Christy Warner asked for concerns from city attorney Kent Hadenfeldt.

“Lottery proceeds are for civic activities basically,” Hadenfeldt said. “Very rarely, if ever, are they supposed to be used for budget items in cities like street repair, vehicle acquisition, payroll and stuff like that. I know, historically, we have used it; other communities have used it to purchase fire equipment. But that is our concern, that we start relying on this in our budget process and then it is out of whack for our community activities that it was actually intended to benefit.”

In a subsequent interview, Prunty said that he does not expect this type of request to become a pattern, though each situation will be treated individually, as this situation was, and each need will be addressed.

“Due to a lack of sales tax, we went to property tax only for the Police and Fire department,” Prunty said. “The police department budget is $200,000 less, I think, this year compared to what it was last year.”

With Baliman’s motion on the floor, and a second by Warner, council approved the request unanimously.

“We will not use (Keno funds) as a revenue stream to purchase vehicles,” Prunty said. “I do not want that to happen.”

 

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