County formalizes vehicle repair funding policies; burden now on responsible department

The Fremont County Commission on Tuesday formalized a vehicle repair policy. (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Lander, Wyo.) – When a Fremont County-owned vehicle is in a wreck, repairs will now be paid by the department operating the vehicle rather than out of the general vehicle maintenance budget.

The decision came during today’s Fremont County Commission meeting during a discussion about a Fremont County Sheriff’s vehicle that hit a deer a couple months ago.

Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese informed commissioners insurance will cover more than $3,000 of the repairs, after the $5,000 deductible is met. She was asking the commission for direction on where to get that $5,000.

Freese said in recent years, such repair costs came out of Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor Glen Steers’s budget. However, there was no policy set as to where such funds should come from.

“My opinion is if someone breaks something, they should fix it,” Chairman Doug Thompson said. He noted that by having the money come from maintenance, it takes responsibility off the department that was involved with the damage occurred. “If there’s responsibility or liability to a department, it should be there.”

Freese said neither the sheriff’s office nor maintenance had budgeted for this kind of wreck. It was her understanding that generally Steers budgets only for general maintenance.

A short discussion surrounded the seemingly high cost of repairs for hitting a deer, as prompted by Commissioner Dennis Christensen. He and Commissioner Keja Whiteman were concerned the deputy’s truck’s grill guard caused more damage than protection. Sheriff Skip Hornecker in previous meetings defended the grill guard and said the majority of the repair costs were going toward replacing sensors that were tripped in the wreck.

Commissioner Travis Becker moved “any accident, no matter the cost, is borne by the department responsible.” Any insurance revenue gained from the wreck to cover repairs would also be provided.

There was talk of requiring the driver involved to report directly to the commission. But Thompson said if the department in question feels there are mitigating circumstances they will be visiting with the commission anyway.

Vice Chairman Pat Hickerson advised the board that departments will now start wanting to create separate line items for vehicle repairs and that will have additional effects.

Becker’s motion passed unanimously.

Other county maintenance news:

Barb Mabry, right, was recognized Tuesday for her 30 years of employment with the county by Maintenance Supervisor JR Oakley, left. (Joshua Scheer photo)

Maintenance Supervisor JR Oakley updated the commission about the county’s server room air conditioning system, which went out during the Thanksgiving weekend. The room has its own AC system to keep the air cool from all the heat generated by the computer equipment.

Oakley said the old unit was 23 years old and runs 24 hours a day. It simply reprocesses the hot air into cool air in a constant loop. There is no ventilation.

When the unit went out, several servers had to be removed and a hole cut in the wall to ventilate.

Oakley proposed looking into a new AC system that would vent to the roof, and save the old system for a back-up. General consensus was to look into it and get details back to the commission in 30 to 45 days.

Oakley also recognized one of his employees, Barb Mabry, for 30 years on the job. He publicly praised her work and said she was “always dependable.”