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Editorial: Creativity key to funding rescue craft

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AT a time when local, state and federal governments are being forced to reduce or eliminate expenditures in the face of diminishing budget allocations, even the purchase of equipment that could save lives is considered problematical at best.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department faced that situation recently as it considered steps that could be taken to give the county’s water rescue and recovery team greater adaptability in its efforts.

One such tool was an inflatable rescue boat that could carry a large number of people and remain stable, even in whitewater conditions.

The problem is that the 14-foot craft carried an $8,500 price tag that could have made a significant dent in the department’s budget, perhaps eliminating other expenditures deemed more essential to the overall goal of the department.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett found a funding source that didn’t involve taxpayer dollars. The department dipped into the jail commissary fund for the necessary money. Those funds are accrued from profits gained from the sale of commissary items to inmates at the jail.

Although the use of the commissary funds is strictly regulated, a provision in the state code allows for money to be spent on equipment used by the sheriff’s department in the course of official duties.

In this instance, the use of the funds not only meets legal requirements but adds to the layers of security that are available in emergency situations.

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