PARIS — With seven recorded vehicle accidents this year, the Oxford County Sheriff's Office has gone over its maintenance budget by more than $5,000.
More than half of the accidents have been car-deer collisions, two in the past week, Sheriff Wayne Gallant said.
With already-budgeted maintenance costs, including oil changes, new tires and associated vehicle upkeep, the accidents put the department over budget by $5,035, Gallant said.
He said the impact of unbudgeted maintenance expenses should be offset by the more than $40,000 the department has saved in fuel expenses in 2013.
Last year, county commissioners approved a $50,000 maintenance budget for the Sheriff's Office's 25-vehicle fleet. In 2012, the department spent $60,600 on maintenance and repairs, according to financial information from the county.
Law enforcement vehicles endure considerably more strain and wear than normal passenger vehicles and have different maintenance needs, Gallant said.
"These cars are idling constantly when they are on the road, whether they are sitting on the side of the road running radar or at a traffic accident for six to eight hours," Gallant said.
More routine maintenance costs are expected before the end of the year and could add to the budget overage.
"It won't be a significant impact, but there will be a little more coming out of that account before Dec. 31," Gallant said.
One of the department's cruisers is getting a new transmission. County Commissioners David Duguay, Steven Merrill and Caldwell Jackson have approved expending no more than $3,200 for the repair.
County Administrator Scott Cole said the unbudgeted fix was necessary.
"We really are trying to watch the budget, but this is a piece of equipment that either needs to be fixed or mothballed for the next three months," Cole told commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.
On Friday, Gallant said the cost of replacing the transmission would be taken from criminal forfeiture proceeds and should not affect the maintenance-budget line.
The vehicle in question was not slated to be traded in for a new model in the near future, and the department intends to put it back on the road once it returns from repairs, Gallant said.