Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower is sticking with Chevrolet Tahoes as the vehicle of choice for his department.

Warren Fiscal Court on Friday approved Hightower’s proposal to purchase four Tahoes and lease another four for the sheriff’s department.

Four of the Tahoes have been leased through the Enterprise Fleet Management program, and Hightower is now opting to purchase them for use by the department’s growing school resource officer program that places SROs in each of the county school system’s high and middle schools.

Those four used vehicles will be purchased for a total cost of $31,511.22. The department will pay $2,815.28 per month to lease all four new Tahoes for 60 months.

“We had seven months left on the lease, so there’s a little bit of savings to go ahead and purchase them,” Hightower said. “We looked at multiple different vehicles, but we decided the best thing to do is stick with the Tahoe.”

Hightower explained that he looked at the Ford Interceptor and other vehicles but said that switching to a different model would result in extra cost to outfit those vehicles.

“With the Tahoe, we can use the old equipment,” he said. “We can just switch the equipment over.”

The sheriff does have a plan to move away from the Tahoe later this year when purchasing or leasing vehicles for the five SROs who will be working only for the length of the school year.

He would like to purchase trucks that will not be outfitted with the total police package that is installed on the Tahoes, thus saving some money.

“If we purchase trucks, those SROs won’t be driving them as much as regular officers,” Hightower said. “We can hold on to them for seven or eight years and then sell them at auction. They’ll have pretty good resale value. We’re trying to manage the fleet in the most economical way.”

Fiscal court also took action Friday that could lead to upgrades at the aging City-County Planning Commission building at 1141 State St.

The magistrates voted to grant authority to advertise for bids on renovating the building that dates to the 1940s.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said. “The building is well-located and accessible to the general public, but it’s old. It probably should have been updated years ago.”

He’ll get no argument from Planning Commission Executive Director Ben Peterson, who said: “It’s an old and tired building. It’s time to look at upgrades.”

Peterson said the planning commission has been saving money for those upgrades for the past two years. The county Public Works Department that is housed in the same building also has some funding available.

“We need to get bids so we have an idea what the cost will be,” Peterson said. “Then we can see if the county wants to put that kind of money in the building or do something else.”

Public Works Director Josh Moore said the upgrades would most likely involve some mechanical updates as well as some cosmetic changes and safety improvements.

The changes are important, Moore said, because the building is utilized by anyone involved with developing real estate.

“We want to try to make the building more attractive,” he said. “When people come from out of town and are looking to develop property, we want them to have a good feel for the area.”

Moore expects to have the project out to bid in “a few weeks” and bring some cost estimates to fiscal court in the fall.

In other action at Friday’s meeting:

  • a one-year, $7,550 contract with Toadvine Enterprises for preventive maintenance at the county’s Buchanon, Moore and White parks was approved.
  • an expenditure of $2,837.40 to Scott and Ritter for repairs to the Moore Park sewer pump station was approved.
  • a $2,531.26 expense to purchase uniform shirts from 4imprint for county parks department employees was approved.
  • various rezonings were approved, including the second and final reading of the rezoning of property at 2371 Plano Road that will be developed as a Dollar General convenience store.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

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