County denies car purchase for probation department

NEW ULM – During a 2014 draft budget review Tuesday, Brown County commissioners denied a new vehicle purchase request by the Brown County Probation Department but approved raising the department’s vehicle maintenance allowance.

Brown County Probation Director Les Schultz requested trading in a 2007 Ford Fusion for a 2014 Fusion at a cost of $13,401.80 with trade-in allowance at Chuck Spaeth Ford, using a state contract price.

“We could keep the car another year and probably have no mechanical issues, but there are some car interior lighting issues, so we’d only use it during the day,” Schultz said.

Commissioner Richard Seeboth said raising the budget maintenance allowance but denying a new vehicle purchase was the same way another county department’s similar request was handled.

In another request, Schultz asked for a budget allowance for Armer radios with call buttons that attach to armored vests for his agents making probation checks on people at night several times a week, sometimes in remote parts of the county without law enforcement backup.

“Armer radios are a big expense,” Seeboth said.

“Agents are already carrying a Preliminary Breath Tester (PBT) and shouldn’t have to carry a cell phone on top of it,” Schultz said. “With Armer radios, like some other county probation departments already have, they can call dispatch by pushing a button on their vest.”

Armer radio expenses were placed on the budget call back list.

The 2014 probation department budget included raising travel expenses from $2,750 in 2013 to $4,100 in 2014. Schultz said traveling to attend probation workshops allows him to find out what is and what isn’t working in other places.

Schultz said his department has received bills up to two years old for medical assistance reimbursement for juveniles getting services at the New Ulm Alternative Learning Center (ALC).

“I feel we’re getting bills we shouldn’t be,” Schultz said. “This can’t go on. We’ve shared some of the bills with Brown County Family Services.”

Brown County Administrator Chuck Enter said he thought the bills were a contractual issue.

County budget reviews continue at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the courthouse commissioners room.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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