Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn (left) briefs the Llano County Commissioners Court on the need for new patrol vehicles. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Don Moss (second from left) reviews a report on high-mileage vehicles alongside Precinct 2 Commissioner Linda Raschke, County Judge Ron Cunningham, and commissioners Peter R. Jones of Precinct 1 and Mike Sandoval of Precinct 3. Staff Photo by Dakota Morrissiey
The Llano County Commissioners Court discussed the need for up to nine new patrol vehicles for the office and a proposal to set up a Community Resource Center in Kingsland when it held its regular meeting Monday, May 23.
A presentation by Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn showed that 13 vehicles — more than a third of sheriff office rides — have over 100,000 miles on their odometers. County policy states law enforcement vehicles should not exceed 150,000 miles and still be in use.
“We need to have a good vehicle, because you never know when you’re going to be involved in a pursuit or have to drive pretty fast getting to an emergency call,” Blackburn said.
In 2019, the LCSO acquired 16 vehicles, which are now all reaching high mileage at the same time.
Supply chain issues are exacerbating the problem. Two vehicles ordered in January 2021 have yet to be delivered because of slowed production and shipping delays.
“It used to be that we could order a vehicle in January and get it by April or May, but not anymore,” Blackburn said.
The LCSO’s budget is finalized in October, but capital purchases can’t be made until January of the following year.
Due to the lack of vehicles, deputies are forced to share, which doubles the average mileage each vehicle accrues.
A new Tahoe, fully equipped with lights and gear, costs between $47,000 and $50,000. Blackburn proposed acquiring fewer vehicles at once so the problem of simultaneous high mileage does not happen again.
“We knew this problem was gonna come up when we got 16 vehicles all at once,” he said.
County Judge Ron Cunningham asked for a long-term plan for replacements.
“There has gotta be a plan where we’re not getting hit with $200,000 or $4 million worth of vehicles all at once,” he said.
Decisions on purchases and timelines will be made at a future meeting.
The Community Resource Centers of Texas, which has an office in Llano, wants to set up in Kingsland in the next year. CRC provides free office space for services that would normally not have an office in a rural community.
“We initially opened up to provide free office space for service providers because, years ago, the state took a lot of health and human services out of small towns because they couldn’t pay for rents and costs,” CRC Site Director Dawn Capra told commissioners. “This made rural Texans drive to Austin, San Antonio, or San Marcos to get those services.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Linda Raschke said the county is looking for potential building sites or property that can be expanded.
“(Kingsland) is without a doubt one of the most underserved areas in the county,” she said.
The CRC Llano office acts as a venue for several community-based organizations such as Central Texas College, the Hill Country Mental Health & Disabilities Center, the Texas Workforce Commission, Faith’s Door, and Hill Country Community Action.
Capra alluded to the creation of a CRC Interagency Working Group,
“What we want to do with the interagency working group is get everybody together so that we can figure out what the biggest need is in Llano County and what the biggest gap is in Llano County and how we can work to close that gap or to service that need,” she said.
The CRC also has offices in Marble Falls, Burnet, Johnson City, and Liberty Hill.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
Commissioners recognized Flood Awareness Week, suggesting that people wear Blue on Wednesday, May 25, which is Wear Blue Day. Flood Awareness Week recognizes the threat that Texans face from flooding. The state leads the nation in flood-related injuries and damages.
In discussing the wildfires that broke out along Texas 71 last week, Cunningham praised local volunteer fire departments, the sheriff’s office, the Texas Task Force, and the Texas A&M Forest Service for their quick and successful response in putting out the fires.
Commissioners also hired a new AgriLife 4-H extension agent, Tamar Kott, who will begin work on May 31.