HAMMOND | The Hammond Police Department plans to purchase 12 new police vehicles next year with gaming revenue set aside in the 2014 budget proposal.
The new cars are Ford Interceptors, which are SUVs that offer more fuel efficiency at 20-plus miles per gallon than the department's older vehicles. The proposal before the Hammond City Council budgets $500,000 for the vehicles.
“It's a major issue to try to save money by having more fuel-efficient vehicles,” Hammond police spokesman Lt. Richard Hoyda said.
The majority of the 10 vehicles the department purchased about a year ago already have 80,000 miles, Hoyda said.
“We answer 100,000 plus calls for service a year, and cars are running 24/7 a day,” Hoyda said. “As it gains mileage, you got to replace tires. Obviously oil changes are important. When a car hits 80,000 to 100,000 miles, you want to replace it if you can.”
Hoyda said the department will use the cars as front-line patrol units, which are assigned to beats and answer calls for service.
The city is budgeting $34.5 million in gaming revenue in the 2014 budget and anticipates using $10 million of the money it receives from the Horseshoe Casino to bridge the shortfall in the general fund.
The city's six district council members each will receive $1.3 million of the revenue for infrastructure projects in their districts, with the mayor's gaming fund set at $4 million, according to the proposal.
The Hammond City Council is set to weigh and likely adopt the city's 2014 budget proposal at its Oct. 28 meeting.