Council looks at grant that could provide four new deputies, new traffic enforcement unit
by Robert Joseph Baker | February 16, 2017 2:50 pm
The Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office could get a new traffic unit, according to county Grants Coordinator Vickie Williams.
She told Clarendon County Council members about a grant on Monday night that could provide the Sheriff’s Office with up to four new deputies and four vehicles, all for traffic enforcement, through the Department of Public Safety’s Target Zero Program.
However, Clarendon County Council tabled an acceptance of the grant until it actually comes through, with Clarendon County Administrator David Epperson noting that while the grant has no match requirement, it would only last a year, and isn’t guaranteed beyond that.
“We could, of course, reapply for the grant each year, and we would continue to do that,” he said. “But it’s not guaranteed beyond the year.”
Williams said that normally her office would approach council for permission to pursue the grant.
“But Sheriff Tim Baxley had a very short notice of this grant opportunity, so it is already submitted,” she said. “I had about five days to put it together and get the appropriate data. We submitted it Feb. 3.”
Williams said Baxley and her office decided to submit the grant after looking at data for vehicle wrecks in the last four years.
“He felt like a traffic enforcement unit would be beneficial to the county,” said Williams.
Williams said the total asked for is $487,483.
“That doesn’t mean we will get all of that,” she said. “We may get nothing. We could get two officers and two vehicles. It will depend on how they decide. My feeling is, based on history, that they will likely come back and say, ‘We’ll give you two officers and two vehicles.'”
Though it has 100-percent funding – meaning council won’t have to put up any match money for the grant – council would have to decide, should the grant not be approved for another year, whether to continue the salaries for the new deputies.
“These positions would be totally dependent upon this grant,” said Williams.
Councilman W.J. Frierson asked about the vehicles.
“Would we be able to keep the vehicles after a year?” he asked.
Williams answered affirmatively.
“Yes, but they can only be used for traffic enforcement,” she said. “They can’t be used for funerals. They can’t be used for drug interdiction. They have to be used solely for traffic enforcement.”
Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart said “the caveat for us, if the grant is terminated and when it terminates, we may not be able to come up at the county level with additional funds for these positions.”
“I know that David has talked to the sheriff about that,” he said of Epperson. “So, I think at this time, it would be wiser for us to delay accepting the grant until we know exactly what the grant will give us.”