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Sheriff Tells Supervisors That His Gas Budget Will Be Not Be Enough

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY –  Sheriff Lance Humphreys told supervisor he may need as much as $20,000 dollars added to his budget due to the spiraling cost of gas to fuel his police cruisers.

    His request, which comes at the half-way mark of the county’s fiscal year, and was made at the “first Monday” meeting in Water Valley – a meeting held with a notable difference from protocol.

    Supervisor Tommy Vaughn opened the meeting with prayer – a ritual usually performed by Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette.

    “Certainly we feel a little a different today not having our fellow board member with us,” Board President Amos Sims said at the start of the meeting. Surrette is currently battling cancer.

    Humphreys’ request for more gas money came after several mundane budget requests for his department, juggling funds from one area of the budget to another, which were met with favor by supervisors.

    These requests included transferring funds received from  a JAG grant to be added to an equipment line item; moving an anticipated $3,000 reimbursement from the state for police academy training back to his budget from the general fund;  and a $125 transfer from Circuit Court restitution to the sheriff’s drug seized fund.

    “I guess this is the one I hate to ask,” Humphreys said, telling supervisors that he had already spent $22,447 of his $33,107 total gas budget at the halfway mark.

    “That leaves us $10,709 for the remaining six months,” Humphreys said. This does not include another $3,000, which  is already going to come out in April for fuel bills.

    “I know this is hitting everybody, but we patrol a lot,” Humphreys said. “I know Bubba (District Five Supervisor Bubba Tillman) listens to the scanner a lot and our guys are answering a lot of calls,” Humphreys said. “We patrol a lot,” the sheriff repeated.

    The sheriff told supervisors that his department uses between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons per month.

    “As of fourth of April, our price for fuel is $2.89, and it is steadily going up everyday,” Humphreys said.

    “Our price usually runs about 40 cents less than pump price,” he continued. Fuel purchased for county use is exempt from state and federal taxes.

    “A maximum of 1,500 gallons at $3.10 for the remainder of the year is about $27,000 minus what we have already got in the budget,” he continued.

    Using this math, Humphreys told supervisors he would need $20,000, adding this was a worse-case scenario.

    “What was the budget last year for fuel?” Vaughn asked.

    “The same thing,” Humphreys said.

    “We can’t sacrifice our police department,” Vaughn said, “but I have a little bit of problem.”

    Vaughn elaborated, explaining that with a 50 cents per gallon increase this year, as compared to last, that the sheriff should need another $20,000 if the gallon consumption this year is comparable to the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

    “It  (gas prices) went up 54 cents, but we are not doubling what we had (spent) last year,” Vaughn said    Vaughn suggested putting funds from the potential sale of several surplus vehicles into the gas fund as a partial solution.

    “We understand it is very difficult for you,” Sims said.

    “Starting April 1, we will have to run lake patrol twice instead of one time a day,” Humphreys said. This means that a deputy makes two trips a day, visiting seven camp sites at Enid and three campsites at Grenada.

    Tillman suggested that anytime one deputy can respond to a call instead of two, it would save fuel.

    “Lots of times I see two vehicles going to the same calls,” Tillman said.

    “Try to make the gallons of fuel used last year kind-of correspond to the gallons of fuel used this year and we will offset,” Vaughn said.

    “Let’s wait another month and look at the budget and see where we can find this money,” Vaughn said.    

    Other business conducted at the meeting included:

    • Tabled a request from Yalobusha Extension Service Director Steve Cummings asking the county to pitch in $3,250 to purchase a sign for the Multi-purpose Building in Coffeeville.

    Cummings told supervisors that he had obtained a grant for $3,500 from Mississippi State University and needed the additional money from the county to make up the difference of the cost of the sign.

    Cummings explained that the Extension Service budget had $841 that could be used for the sign and the Multi-purpose

    “It will announce what is going on in the building,” Janet Caulder added about the double-sided LED scrolling sign.

    “I can sure see the need for this,” Supervisor Tommy Vaughn added, but noted that county officials had other financial requests during the middle of the budget year.

    “The sheriff needs gas,” Vaughn said. A decision was defered until the recessed meeting in April.

    • Paid claims and accepted minutes from the previous month’s meeting.

    • Opened bids for three separate Local System Bridge Placement (LSBP) for projects on County Roads 103, 174 and Coffeeville/Pine Valley Roads.

    • Voted to advertise for a new or used broom sweeper for District One.

    • Voted to advertise for bids for striping a portion of old Hwy. 330 as part of a state-funded state-aid road project.

    • Approved an application for Georgia Pacific to exceed the posted weight limit on County Road 211 in District Four while hauling logs. An application was also approved by Lovorn Logging, Inc. in District One on County Road 87.

    • Approved a request for travel for constables Randy Simmons and Charlie Caulder to attend the constable’s training seminar and convention in June in Biloxi.

    • Passed a resolution in support of Tennessee Valley Authority honoring the company’s 75th anniversary.

    • Approvided a request from Justice Court Clerks Doris Shaw and Carol Wilbourn to attend the Justice Clerks’ seminar in May.

    • Recorded in the minutes that the annual jail inspection by supervisors had been completed.

    “That jail looks better than it has since I have been in office,” Vaughn said about the visit. State law requires supervisor to make an annual inspection of the county jail.

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