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Wadena County turns down sheriff's request for new squad cars

The Wadena County Board asked Sheriff Mike Carr to come back in June with requests for two squads for 2010.

Carr came to the Jan. 5 board meeting asking to purchase a 2010 Crown Victoria for $23,658.32 from Elk River Ford, which holds the state bid. He also wants approval to buy a used sports utility vehicle not to exceed $18,000 for the sheriff's department investigator to use. The purchases are in his budget, he said.

Squads go out of rotation every four years and need to be replaced, Carr said. These two squads will not be back up for rotation for another four years.

"Every two years there are two squads that are always needing to be replaced," he said.

After cars go out of full-time service they serve two years as a spare squad and are then handed down to the assessor's office or another county department, Carr said.

"So by the time Wadena County gets done using these cars, we've definitely got our use out of them," he said.

They have anywhere between 100,000 and 130,000 miles on them by the time they go out of rotation, he said. It may not sound like a lot for a car for personal use to have 107,000 miles, he said, but it's different with a car used for emergencies.

He planned to pass the department's 2004 Crown Victoria with 107,825 miles to the assessor's office and give the 2003 Ford Explorer currently used by the investigator to the county's emergency manager.

"I can always push it back another year," Carr said about the purchases. "But the thing is you're going to have to increase my maintenance costs considerably."

Carr said the sheriff's department spent $36,000 last year on maintenance, which is $20,000 over budget. Some of that does include deer hits, he said.

"I understand times are tough, but we also have to have squad cars to respond to emergencies," Carr said.

Commissioners told Carr they will need to wait until they have a better idea of what potential unallotments the county will get from the state this year before approving any purchases.

"There's a cloud right now over our heads," Chairman Bill Stearns said.

Commissioner Lane Waldahl also suggested Carr provide all the used car dealerships in the county with specifications for what kind of an SUV he is looking for so they all have a chance to sell to the county.

The sheriff originally planned to work with Spear's Auto to find the used SUV. He rotates the dealerships he works with, he said.

Carr said he would like to order the 2010 Crown Victoria now so he could have it by May. But he's on the same team as the commissioners and will wait until June, he said. But he's telling them there will be problems.

"What I see is we're going to have a lot of problems down the road if we don't replace these cars," he said. "Sooner or later [we're] going to have to replace them."

The board also decided to sell at auction the 2003 Chevy Impala used by the emergency manager, because of costs related to fixing suspension issues, a coolant leak and alignment problems and putting in new tires.