Photo by Curt Yeomans
The Jonesboro City Council approved $61,400 worth of budget amendments on Monday at the request of Mayor Joy Day (right). The money was designated for a variety of purchases, including new police cars, a city newsletter, and additional Christmas decorations.
There are some Jonesboro police cars that Police Chief Franklin Allen says are no longer safe to be on the road because they have become too old and worn out.
The Jonesboro City Council responded to Allen’s concerns by approving an amendment to the town’s 2012 budget, to give the police department $35,000 to buy two new police cruisers this year. It was part of $61,400 worth of budget amendments made Monday by the council, at Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day’s request.
Allen and Day told members of the Jonesboro City Council the department has nine police cruisers that have more than 100,000 miles. Five more patrol cars have more than 60,000, they added. Franklin expressed a lack of confidence in the safety of at least “five or six” of the department’s patrol cars.
“If I was driving 100 miles per hour, and chasing people up and down the roads, I wouldn’t want to be in some of those cars,” Allen told council members.
Day supported Allen’s request.
“I would urge the council to start back on our police car purchasing program,” she said. “Our fleet is old. I don’t know if we bought any new cars in the last four years. We bought very few during my last term as mayor [from 2004-2007] ... The longer we delay this, the more trouble we are going to get.”
The mayor said the city made the amendments to the budget after town leaders learned the franchise fees money it received from Georgia Power was $76,767.36 more than the city had budgeted for.
In addition to the new police cars, the amendments included adding $10,000 to buy a new motor for the city’s bucket truck; $8,000 to the Christmas decorations budget; $3,500 to build a concrete wheelchair ramp at City Hall; $2,500 to be added to Jonesboro’s contingencies fund, doubling it; $2,000 for the purchase of supplies for the Jonesboro Neighborhood Watch group, and $400 for a city newsletter.
Many of the amendments are new line items in the city budget, but the money for the contingencies fund and the Christmas decorations are actually add-ons to existing line items. The line item for the contingencies fund now increases to $5,000, and the line item for Christmas decorations now goes up to $20,000.
Council members voted on each amendment separately, and they unanimously approved many of the changes in spending. The additional Christmas decorations spending, and the purchase of the new police cars were each approved by 5-1 votes.
Council member Clarence Mann voted against the additional Christmas decorations money after he suggested the amendment should be for a smaller increase in spending. Council member Bobby Wiggins cast the lone vote against the police cars after he suggested the cars be bought out of drug-seizure funds.
The council did give Allen permission to use drug-seizure money to buy one additional patrol car for the police department, as part of its approval of Day’s recommended budget amendment. That would allow the department to purchase a total of three new patrol cars.
Day said the city will put aside the remaining $15,367.36 that is left over from the surplus Georgia Power franchise fees. There are no immediate plans to spend that money, she said. “We still didn’t spend all of it [the surplus franchise fees money],” she said. “We’ll still be putting some of it into the general fund.”