FPD seeks USDA grant to replace high-mileage cars

Published 10:24 am Friday, June 19, 2015

With 10 vehicles in the fleet that have in excess of 100,000 miles, the Franklin Police Department is seeking to continue to make replacements.

Departments prefer to replace less efficient, older police vehicles, which are driven harder than normal cars, in the 75,000 to 80,000 mile range. Franklin Police Spokesman Capt. Tim Whitt, in applying for the grant, said that maintenance costs to keep them operational exceed the value of the vehicles.

The department has been able to receive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development arm several times over the past few years, and Whitt hopes to continue that tradition to further modernize the fleet.

But the grant does come at some cost to the Franklin City Council, which was forced to raise the real estate tax rate by 3 cents despite either making cuts or level-funding most budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year.

For up to a $40,909 local match, Franklin is eligible to receive as much as $50,000 from the USDA to go toward the purchase of police vehicles and other equipment.

Being fully funded by the grant would enable the department to purchase two vehicles, along with the associated equipment for patrol operations including: emergency equipment, in-car video camera and radar.

With a local match on the table, it was brought before the Franklin City Council this past Monday for approval.

With the budget crunch still a fresh discussion, Ward 3 Councilman Greg McLemore asked City Manager Randy Martin if there was a local match. Upon hearing that there was, Council approved the grant application in a 6-1 vote, with McLemore voting nay.

The competitive grant process will take several months before funding is announced.