The most interesting part of the exchange, or at least telling for next year's budget negotiations, came when Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, asked about the high mileage on many of the SBI's vehicles.
"According to this report, the average vehicle in the fleet has over 90,000 miles, have you begun to develop plans to try to replace or update this fleet," Lewis asked. "This seems to be a real concern that our flagship law enforcement agency in the state has such an old fleet to do its job."
SBI Director Greg McLeod said the high mileage was a concern, but it was a consequence of decision made by legislators.
"Certainly its a concern of ours. Every year we identify and plan a replacement plan," McLoud said. "We've seen a 59 percent decrease, cut, in our vehicle replacement budget. Certainly that's a challenge. Some of the vehicles we have our older. Our average is five-to-eight years old...43 percent of our vehicles are over 100,000 miles. That's a concern but it's a choice between laying off personnel or cutting back the car budget. At some point, it's going to come home to roost if we don't begin trying to invest a little bit more in the car budget. That's something we hope to get some cooperation and support from the General Assembly this year."
Program evaluation staff had recommended drafting legislation to require the SBI to apply "best practices" to their motor fleet management. Rather, on Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, the staff was directed to draft a wider motor fleet bill that would deal with cars owned by a number of state agencies.
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