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Public hearing needed on Sheriff's request to purchase patrol cars

The Scotts Bluff County Commissioners Monday voted to hold a public hearing in two weeks on Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman's request to amend his budget to purchase two new patrol cars. Overman says $61,000 will purchase and equip the two cars and emphasizes he is proposing to fund them without using property taxes.

Overman wants to use $45,000 of insurance money he did not use to fix older cars that had hail damage and $16,000 of the $73,000 in excess fee money he returned to the county treasurer's office in December.

Overman says one of the cars he will replace is the last of the fleet's Crown Victorias, a 2006. The other is a 2008 Dodge Charger. Both have well over 100,000 miles.

Overman says having new patrol cars are "not a luxury", and what are needed to make sure his officers "can do their jobs" safely. He pointed to cases like last Saturday when Deputies helped apprehend two Texas fugitives in a multi-agency 90 mile per hour pursuit.

Commissioner Steve Stratton Monday gave tentative support for the proposal, maintaining the fee money was a "windfall that wasn't accounted for at budget time" and the insurance money is savings from a budget line item. Commissioner Sherry Blaha said she had no problem with use of the insurance money. But she questioned the fairness to other department heads of using the fee money that is expected to go to the general fund.

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