Union County coroner Robert Leavitt sought funding for a new vehicle at Union County Council's May 20 meeting.

Deputy coroner Julie Leavitt expressed to council the coroner's department takes their jobs seriously and takes pride in their appearance. They like to arrive on scene in a professional manner, but the department's vehicle is letting them down. The aging vehicle was donated by another county and is in need of a lot of work.

Robert Leavitt presented some of the problems he has experienced with the current vehicle and the need for a replacement. Julie noted the department's grants are based on population and consequently, inadequate to fund a vehicle purchase.

Robert explained he is seeking a pickup truck with a cap to separate staff from decedents, the current SUV can quickly escalate to a biohazard risk during the summer. Leavitt presented a quote for a Ford F-250 supercab 4x4 for $34,000, down from the $44,025 retail price. Quotes for lighting and equipment were also presented.

Councilman Jim Hensley Jr. suggested checking with Larkin Greenewood Ford in Connersville and Union County auditor Cheryl Begley suggested checking the state's government bid program. Leavitt agreed to seek quotes from other vendors. Hensley noted a new vehicle would last the department for many years based on the light usage and asked if Public Safety Local Option Income Tax can be used; other council members confirmed.

Council president Richard Blank suggested a good used vehicle could last as long as a new one. Leavitt and some council members replied used vehicles can cost more than new vehicles in the current marketplace. Councilman Jeff Adams reported used fleet trucks are selling for more than new trucks available through the state bid program.

Blank noted council will be laying out the 2022 budget soon so, he preferred to wait and budget the purchase for next year. Hensley and Adams voiced hesitancy to wait until 2022. Adams asked if the purchase required approval of Union County Commissioners; Blank replied it did not. Council asked Leavitt to seek more bids for the truck and equipment.

Commissioners met the following day; commissioner Tim Williams noted he had read the meeting minutes from council's meeting and offered an overview for his peers. Commissioner Howard Curry questioned the need for such a large truck. Williams suggested taking the next truck that comes out of rotation in the sheriff's department. Curry voiced concern about council reviewing purchases without the approval of commissioners. Begley stated her understanding is matters should first come to commissioners, who will then make a recommendation to council and Curry agreed.