Sheriff’s department driving toward hybrid vehicle fleet

Wed, 04/07/2021 - 8:45am

    For years, hybrid and electric vehicles have been a “green” transportation option. But Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett has found another green purpose for alternative-fueled vehicles – a “green” economical use. At the April 6 county commissioners meeting, Brackett proposed buying a second hybrid vehicle as the longest term economical replacement. Brackett received three bids for a cruiser replacement. In his request for proposals, Brackett sought bids on hybrid vehicles and the standard fuel-injection models. Quirk in Augusta and Darling’s in Bangor provided bids for a 2021 direct fuel injection and hybrid Ford Interceptor Utility cruisers. Quirk’s bid was $36,536 for a hybrid and $33,385 for fuel-injection. Darling’s bid was $32,381 for fuel-injection and $39,605 for a hybrid model.

    Newcastle Dodge submitted a $30,797 bid for a 2021 Dodge Durango (non-hybrid) cruiser. Brackett left the meeting to review the three bids. When Brackett returned, he recommended buying a hybrid vehicle as the most economical choice. Brackett explained the department bought a hybrid vehicle in 2019, which over a three-year period is expected to save money. It averaged 22 miles per gallon compared to other fuel-injected fleet vehicles which averaged 13. Both hybrid options’ purchase price cost a couple thousand dollars more, but Brackett believes in the long run, a hybrid would be less expensive. “Nobody knows what the price of gas is going to be but at $2.50 per gallon, over a three-year period, we’re going to save $9,700, and if it goes to $3 (per gallon), savings would total over $11,000,” he said. 

    Commissioners agreed with Brackett’s rationale, and agreed to table their vote until after Quirk responded to a department request for more information. Brackett contacted Quirk earlier in the morning, checking if the dealership had any unsold 2020 hybrid models. 

    In other action, Brackett updated commissioners on the Two Bridges Regional Jail inmate count which stands at 74. Commissioner Hamilton Meserve asked Brackett if he expected the jail population to return to the nearly 180 level it had in recent years. Brackett responded their were several reasons beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic which reduced the population. Brackett explained a major part was the jail authority’s conscious decision to close down one of the pods. Another was a loss of state funding. “That’s a tough one to predict,” he said. “We’re not too far off from returning to a semblance of normalcy. We are staffed for 85, and it should increase as we start to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.”

    County Emergency Management Agency Director Casey Stevens sought approval to begin spending funds from the annual Homeland Security Grant which totals $88,140. He recommended spending $2,500 for both the Search and Rescue and Amateur Radio teams and $5,000 for the HazMat team. Stevens is still seeking quotes for the County Rescue Task Force Team and buying a generator for a Red Cross shelter which recently found a home at Central Lincoln County YMCA in Damariscotta. Stevens estimated costs for the Search and Rescue Team may run close tot $20,000. The new team will assist local law enforcement in potential mass casualty situations, active shooters, and pulling victims away from dangerous situations. “We are still purchasing (task force) team equipment like body armor, chest protectors and helmets. So we don’t know the actual cost,” he said. 

    On the COVID-19 front, Stevens reported a state website showed as of April 1, Lincoln County had the highest vaccination rate in the state.

    County Administrator Carrie Kipfer reported Denise Pergson resigned as of April 2 as assistant county administrator. Commissioners also approved a Maine Land Use Planning Commission application for a Monhegan Island business. Mooring Chain received approval to rebuild a deck and enclosed portion for establishing a staff use bathroom, cafe space and building a stairway to the second story deck as access to a one-bedroom apartment. 

    Commissioners will hold a hearing for a Bristol man’s tax abatement request in May. Michael Chase challenged the valuation assessed for his New Harbor property. Kipfer reported Chase filed the abatement with the town, which declined to take action. “I reached out to the town, and they feel the property was properly valued, and they had nothing else to add. So they want it to come to the county,” she said. Kipfer will work with the interested parties in setting a date. 

    The commissioners’ meeting ended with two executive sessions. One was requested by the sheriff regarding a personnel discussion. The second was an administration request to discuss a legal matter.

    Commissioners will meet next at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 20 in the Lincoln County Regional Planning Office in Wiscasset.