The Madison County Sheriff’s Department and the Madison County Fiscal Court have committed themselves to spending more than $241,000 to purchase new vehicles for the sheriff’s office.
In a resolution approved unanimously by the court, these funds will go towards the purchase of four police package vehicles and one narcotics vehicle for the 2022 budget year.
The resolution passed will allow Sheriff Mike Coyle to earmark money for his 2022 budget — which will be presented in January — to purchase the new vehicles. Coyle said he needed the approval on the purchase because, due to the pandemic, there was a backlog on vehicles.
According to Coyle, his department is in “dire need” of new cruisers.
“I take pride in being a good steward of the taxpayer money but I can’t help this county is 93,000 people population wise, 443 square miles, 1,169 highway miles with the interstate I-75 running through it, two colleges,” Coyle listed. “It’s a big county north to south, east to west and bordered by seven counties.”
He stated when the deputies come to work, that cruiser is their office.
“They work one shift, one eight hour shift and we supply the county with 24-7 patrol,” he said. “That is a whole lot of miles that you will put on a car when it is brand new.”
As it stands, Coyle has more than 30 sworn-deputies, 15 court security deputies and just over 40 cruisers.
“We have cruisers run all over the state picking up prisoners, bringing them back working along with our jailer to bring these inmates back for court purposes. If it takes you across the states like I said, we get these new cars and we circulate around and take the old cars and put them in court security and we just wear them out.”
Currently, Coyle said 15 of his staff’s cruisers are pushing 200,000 miles, and they continue to drive them everyday. The sheriff attempted to order cruisers in 2020, but because their finances were cut back by the court, they were forced to give it up.
If the sheriff can give an acknowledgement from the court for approval to purchase within the deadline from the manufacturers, he can save upwards of $3,500 per vehicle by sticking to a price contract determined in January.
“That is the purpose of this letter today,” he said. “...It’s a savings because we have to have it. … As long as I am sheriff and as long as you all are on here, the cars are going to be a factor and that is the way it is. I apologize for that, but I do want to acknowledge this court how much appreciation that I wanted to extend to you all for you all helping the Madison County Sheriff's Office the way you have through the years.”
Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said he would be remiss if he did not acknowledge that his administration has always supported law enforcement and the sheriff's department.
However, the root of the issue, Taylor believes, is the drug epidemic.
“It’s the root of the issues in the jail, it is the root of the issue in us being able to financially support our law enforcement enough to protect our tax paying citizens and I think it is important we get that message out,” Taylor said.
In his state of the county address last week, Taylor said between the jail and sheriff’s budgets, it has increased 103% over the past seven years.
“It has increased because we do support it but also the fact of the sheriff’s department is, there are less state troopers,” Taylor said. “The sheriff’s department and we as a fiscal court have had to put a lot of money into law enforcement where the state used to provide that service a lot more than they do today.”
Judge Taylor said with only seven state troopers in the county, that equaled out to 1.2 troopers per shift with no sick time or vacation time.
“So when we wonder why our budget and stuff is increasing year after year after year, it’s because of this drug epidemic. On the law enforcement side, it’s because the state police have a smaller number of troopers in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Taylor said. “And it isn’t just happening in Madison County, it is happening all over the commonwealth.”
• Two proclamations were read aloud by Judge Taylor which recognized Women in Agriculture Association and the Madison County Extension Homemakers Association during the month of October.
• The fiscal court heard from Emerson McAfee, head of the Vietnam Veterans Association Chapter 1066 spoke before the council about possibly funding two new veterans memorials in conjunction with the city of Richmond and Madison County. In total the two memorials could cost $5,000 a piece for each government body.
• Five resolutions were approved pertaining to the MAdison County CSEPP program including a CSEPP Emergency Preparedness Calendar contract, Modular Utility Vaults bid award, and three grant MOA contract extensions.
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 9:30 a.m. at 304 Chestnut Street in Berea.