Two Metro Councilwomen say they will dig into the mayor’s proposed 2015 budget to try to add more money so the Constable’s Office to can buy 10 new vehicles.
City Constable Reginald Brown asked the council members at Monday night’s budget hearing to find the money. The Constable’s Office originally requested 10 new vehicles. The administration proposed funding for only three but green-lighted $1 million for new cars for the Baton Rouge Police Department.
“Once the fleet gets depleted, you have a mass call for replacement,” Brown said.
Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards questioned what she called unfair treatment of the Constable’s Office, which she said provides public safety just as police do. Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis also vowed to try to help find the funding.
But the mayor’s chief administrative officer, William Daniel, said the role of the Constable’s Office differs from police because its main responsibility involves courthouse operations.
Finance Director Marsha Hanlon said the Constable’s Office first needs to sell some old cars and then get a better estimate on its court cost revenues. She said the office should submit a budget supplement in 2015 once that money is available.
“My office is treating the constables like we’re treating the police,” Hanlon said. “We’re trying to get the oldest vehicles off the street.”
The Constable’s Office has 29 cars regularly in use right now, and Brown estimated they would spend $30,000 to $35,000 for each new vehicle, typically SUVs. Police, in comparison, spend $26,000 to $28,000 per new car, typically sedans, Daniel said.
Hanlon said the extra $1 million for police would go toward replacing vehicles from 2005, 2006 and 2007. She said cars must hit the 100,000-mile mark to be replaced, and police cars have shorter life spans because officers leave them running for prolonged periods of time.
The council members also reviewed proposed budgets for the Department of Public Works, the library and the Department of Juvenile Services. The council will vote on the mayor’s proposed budget in December.