The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is venturing into doing its own mechanic work to save money by not having to outsource costly repairs.
Sheriff Tim Fuller and Capt. Greg Lewis, who handles the department’s purchasing duties, approached the Finance Committee at its March 3 meeting with a request totaling $108,608 to fund a mechanic’s position and equip a 64-by-40-foot section in the Franklin County Jail’s annex area with mechanical repair equipment.
The County Commission approved a budget amendment recently so that the money for the project will be coming from the Sheriff’s Office general budget instead of the jail’s budget.
Kyle King, who had been a corrections officer and has mechanical experience, has been assigned the mechanic’s position. The personnel request approved by the Finance Committee totals $57,800, including $42,000 in annual salary and $15,800 in benefits.
The cost to equip the shop area is $50,800, and items will include a tire changer; high capacity tire balancer; two 7,000-pound capacity bridge jacks; an 80-gallon, 7.5-horsepower air compressor; and a 120-gallon air tank.
Fuller said that although the department has an annual mechanical budget totaling $140,000, repair costs have approached $200,000 in given years.
He added that because the department’s vehicles are government-owned, mechanics have charged more than they would for individuals owning private vehicles.
“We’ve seen things that would have shocked the consciousness of the public,” he said, referring to some of the costs his department has been assessed for mechanical repairs.
Lewis echoed Fuller’s position about the department coming out ahead financially by doing its own mechanic work.
“If we get the stuff we need, we can save some money,” he told the Finance Committee.
County Commissioner David Eldridge said if the committee and the commission approves the request, the department has to reduce the line item it spends on repairs accordingly.
He said the expenses need to be carefully monitored to ensure the move is saving the county money.
County Mayor David Alexander cautioned that if the change doesn’t save money, the department would face consequences, the mechanic position could be abandoned and someone could lose their job.
“If you want to do this, you have to show us it saved money,” he said. “There has to be consequences.”