Morgan: Why do we need more Tahoes?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Despite opposition from two councilpeople, the Opp Police and Opp fire departments will get two Chevrolet Tahoes.

During the Opp Council meeting on Monday, councilmen Arlin Davis, Bobby Ray Owens and Mike Booth approved the purchase of the two Tahoes, while councilwoman Mary Brundidge and councilman T.D. Morgan voted against.

“We already have five at the OPD, why do we need another?” Morgan questioned. “There’s three there that are not even being used.”

Mayor John Bartholomew said that an impaired driver recently totaled an officer’s parked police car, and the new Tahoe would be the replacement.

The car being used now by the officer is outdated, worn out and does not have a dashboard camera, Bartholomew said.

“We want to make sure they’re safe, have cameras and the command center they need,” Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew said that the vehicles would be equipped with a command base for both departments, and will be purchased used from the state for more than $28,000 each.

Morgan said he believes the vehicles will be purchased new and said that he would love for everyone to drive a new vehicle, but it isn’t needed.

Morgan also said the vehicles were originally in the budget, but were removed.

Bartholomew said that more taxes and business licenses are coming into the city, so he asked the council to consider the purchase now.

“We were trying to balance out our budget without putting them in there,” Bartholomew said. “I wanted my council to have the opportunity to decide whether to authorize the purchase of the vehicles.

“We have the insurance money for the totaled OPD vehicle,” he said. “We wanted to give back to the police department what has been lost.”

Opp Fire Chief Cory Spurlin said he is currently driving an OPD hand-me-down 1999 silver Crown Victoria, instead of using the third generation hand-me-down 2002 maroon Crown Victoria.

The maroon vehicle has steering problems, is covered in hail dents and the paint is chipping and failing. The car does not have enough room to maneuver, Spurlin said.

“The Tahoes usually have the command module in the back and would provide a way to get out of the weather,” Spurlin said. “It would be nice to have a vehicle where I don’t have to work on the hood, and it would make it easier to handle everything.”

Spurlin also said the OFD is in possession of the Emergency Management Agency boat, which can be towed behind the Tahoe.

“The OFD is just as important as the police department,” Bartholomew said. “We’ve neglected them for so many years; they need to be brought into the 21st century.”

According to Bartholomew and Spurlin, the Tahoes are also better in resale value than the cars, so it is a better investment.

The council also approved the purchase of a new lawn mower to be used by parks and recreation.

Councilman Davis confirmed that the purchase would be made locally with J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop.

The cost of the new Grasshopper lawnmower will be $14,750, and will be used to cut grass on ditchlines and the like, according to Bartholomew.

Parks and Rec. recently purchased a lawn mower, which is specifically used for ball fields and uses a different type of blade than the needed lawn mower.