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Sheriff Department buys new cruisers locally

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Fiscal court says single public bid differs little from state contract cost, warrants buying here

By Scotty McDaniel

Shelby County Sheriff's department put in orders for two new Ford Police Interceptors last week, and they were purchased locally at O'Brien Ford Mercury.

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"We've got several people in the county that work out there, and we hope it's a dealership that stays in business," Sheriff Mike Armstrong said. "We wanted to stay local and try help out business here. That does put money back in the local economy." 

After advertising for bids this year, the department received only one, which meant Armstrong could choose that bid from O'Brien or the always-present state contract.

Before making those purchases, he sought feedback from Shelby County Fiscal Court on his choice because buying locally would cost $296.30 more than the state contract option for the same vehicle. The local bid was for $21,671.30.

"I don't have to get the OK from the county. I just wanted to explain to them what I thought. I very much respect their opinions. I was pleased to see they looked at it the way I did," he said.

County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger and magistrates agreed that the difference in price was small enough to justify going with the local choice.

"The commonwealth of Kentucky puts out bids every year for police cruisers, and the government has the option to buy off that if that want to," Rothenburger said. "They're not obligated to. The sheriff did put out a bid. The only bid he did receive was from O'Brien Ford. Technically, that's the only one he has to look at."

Last year after bids went out for new cruisers Armstrong went with purchasing from the state contract instead of locally.

"The reason I did was that there was $2,300 difference in the bids back then," he said.

City's situation different

A few weeks back the Shelbyville Police Department put out bids for its new cruisers and received two public bids. The local of the two bids was not lower, and because there were two bids, the law required the Shelbyville City Council to go with the lower bid -- Countryside Motors of Lawrenceburg. 

As Mayor Tom Hardesty stated in a letter to the editor published Wednesday, "...when a city advertises for public bids, it is legally obligated to take the lowest bid and may not select a higher bid merely because the bidder is a local business."

The city therefore could not purchase locally, because, unlike the county, it had two public bids, and the local bid was not the lowest. The county only had the one bid.

New cars, new look

From here on out, all new Sheriff Department's Ford Police Interceptors will sport a new exterior look.

The familiar decal design that has been on those cars since the late 1990s underwent an overhaul recently after the previous decal provider retired.

"We just figured it was time for something new," Armstrong said.

Four cruisers now have the new design, and he said seven of them will in four months time.

"The 'Sheriff' [wording] is bigger, there's a star on the front fender, and the new design has different colors. They still have the unit number on the back. The point still gets across," Armstrong said.

"From here on this is the way they'll look. It's a whole new package."