Belhaven eyes new cruisers

Published 7:07 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Staff Writer

BELHAVEN — The Belhaven Police Department may be close to acquiring two new police cruisers, according to information discussed during the Town Council’s meeting Monday.
Susan Christensen, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provided the council an update on the grant/loan program that will pay for the new police vehicles. Some of the town’s police vehicles are in less than stellar condition, according to town officials.
“The town asked for the funds to get these new vehicles in May of this year,” she said, “and we were very receptive, and we are trying to help the town.”
She said that based on the town’s demographics and financial condition, the town is eligible for a grant that would cover 75 percent of the cost of the vehicles. The police cruisers, with all of they needed, will cost $64,000.
“And we were able to get 75 percent grant approval,” Christensen said. “So, we have a grant for $48,000 and another one for $16,000 to replace the police cars and to fully equip them.”
According to Christensen, the interest rate for the $16,000 loan portion of the deal is at 4 percent, with payments of $2,666 a year during a seven-year period.
“The present cars we have now are older and have as much as 100,000 miles on them that the (police) chief is concerned about,” Mayor Adam O’Neal said. “So, I think it’s wonderful that the chief went out an searched for these funds. It’s going to be tough to buy two brand new Dodge Chargers equipped for police work.
“I think that says a lot for our police chief. I think we have the most qualified police chief, and we are very fortunate we have a police chief with a master’s in business administration because he has maybe just saved the town probably $48,000 in search of these vehicles.”
Commissioner McKee “Mac” Pigott Jr. said the town is more than $200 over budget when it comes to the repair and maintenance of police cruisers this year.
“We budgeted $3,500 and have already spent $3,700 on these vehicles,” he said. “So, you can tell our fleet is aging.”
The council took no action regarding the two new police cruisers, but it did approve submitting the paperwork required to secure the grant and loan that would pay for them.