The Board of Selectmen unanimously moved to endorse a special appropriation of $70,395 for three new Crown Victoria police cars.

New Canaan Chief of Police Edward Nadriczny and Bill Oestmann discussed the condition of the police fleet and originally requested a special appropriation of $125,395 for three new Crown Victoria vehicles, an SUV and one used vehicle. The chief indicated that the remaining money for the other two vehicles would be included into the 2011-2012 budget.

"There was a time over two years ago where we would get three new cop cars every year," Nadriczny said. "We have been put into a much more difficult situation for the last two budget years."

The police department has only purchased one new vehicle for the last two years according to the chief and now the clock is ticking in terms of maintaining its "aging fleet."

Starting March 1, Ford will stop producing the Crown Victoria, the standard for all police vehicles. After that, Ford is slated to begin production on a new car called the Police Interceptor but, according to Oestmann, those cars would not be ready until the summer of 2012 in a best case scenario.

"It is essentially a timing issue," Nadriczny said.

The department would prefer to order the Crown Victorias before they go out of production in March.

"The fleet is aging to the point where we had to tow a vehicle off the scene once," Nadriczny added.

Currently, the police have 16 cars. Many of them exceed 80,000 miles and require a lot of maintenance considering they need to be performing at a top level for emergency response situations.

The Board of Selectmen discussed the issue from both a budgetary and public safety standpoint. The request for a special appropriation of funds indicates that this amount will not be in the police department budget for the 2011-2012 year and Nadriczny indicated that he also made sure the budget only requested a 0.3 percent increase from last year in light of the fleet requirement. Last year's police budget was at $5.15 million with this year's request being at $5.17 million, though that may change with two vehicles entering the budget.

"We need to keep costs of government as flat as possible in this economy," First Selectman Jeb Walker said. "We are not going to get to do everything we want to do. That is just the reality of the matter."

Nadriczny reiterated that the request for the new Crown Victorias would need to be placed sooner rather than later so that Ford could hasten the production. He recommended that mid-February would be the best time to place the orders.

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Nadriczny added that the department would not be requesting any more vehicles in its budget lines this year or next year with this appropriation. During that time, they will learn more about the new Ford Police Interceptors.

"I suspect it will relieve the pressure of going with the first year model of those vehicles," Selectman Sally Hines said regarding the common glitches and issues found in early models of new cars.

With the endorsement of the Board of Selectmen, the police will need the approval of Town Council and the Board of Finance to move on the orders.