Sheriff, Commission At Odds on Sheriff’s Department Vehicle Budget Issue

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott took the Greene County Commission to task during a budget hearing Wednesday afternoon over the Commission’s lack of decision on new vehicles for his department.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking for 30 new vehicles in the new budget which will replace vehicles that have reached the end of their life cycle. These vehicles are close to 140,000 miles of use by the department.

The Sheriff’s Department vehicles have been the subject of multiple discussions by the commission during this year’s budget and last year’s budget.

In last year’s budget discussions, there were talks about a new system of vehicle replacement that would be similar to Christian County and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Instead of Chargers, the department would buy SUVs which have a higher resale value.

The vehicles would then be sold on a shorter cycle than currently used for vehicles, which would increase the resale value of the SUVs and decrease the overall cost for maintenance for the fleet compared the current maintenance costs.

There were also discussions in preliminary budget meetings about leasing vehicles rather than outright purchases.

The Commissioners have stated they want to obtain more information about the options before making a decision on the vehicles.

“There are many issues that the county deals with from time to time and we’re doing our best to utilize our resources in the most effective way,” Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon told OI after the budget session. “Certainly law enforcement is one of our top priorities.”

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott

Sheriff Arnott showed a growing frustration with the Commissioners’ repeated discussions of the issue without moving the issue forward, noting concessions made by his department in an attempt to clear budget space for the vehicles.

“I’ve dropped personnel requests and done all that’s been asked of me by the Commission,” Arnott said during the meeting. “I’ve had to spend three days in here when I could be running the operations of the jail and my department. I’ve had to have three of my top staff in here for three days, all over vehicles that we all agree we need.”

“Ask the auditor’s office, ask me, ask my staff,” Arnott added. “If you don’t think we need 30 [vehicles], then tell us how many you think we need. If you want us to buy the more expensive vehicles, tell us. As much as I enjoy coming to meetings, I have a job to do. The auditor has an audit on her back that the commission asked the state to do. What more do you need?”

The Commission ended the session without further discussion of the vehicle issue, noting it would discussed at another budget session. Despite the apparently disagreement about the pace and direction of budget decision making, Dixon reiterated his support for Arnott.

“I have the greatest respect for Sheriff Arnott,” Dixon told OI. “And I can say without a doubt that he does an outstanding job.”

The next scheduled budget meetings for the commission are Friday.

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