KANKAKEE — The Kankakee County Sheriff’s Office recently cleared a key hurdle in its proposal to get $800,000 for vehicles and related equipment.

The lease payments would be spread over three years under a lease agreement.

Sheriff Mike Downey is seeking 20 cars in all — 11 Chevrolet Tahoes and nine Dodge Ram trucks.

At its monthly meeting, the county board’s finance committee voted unanimously for the sheriff’s request.

Downey told the committee that he needed to get approval quickly so the county could take advantage of low Dodge prices.

“Dodge is trying to get more in the police market,” the sheriff said.

Committee members asked whether the lease payments would overlap with others in years ahead.

“It’s best not to overlap,” said member Todd Sirois, R-St. Anne.

Finance director Steve McCarty said he could bring that information next month.

The committee decided to go ahead and support the request.

A few years ago, the county held back on car purchases because it was struggling financially, worrying about making payroll.

That means the county is working with cars that are up to six years old. Maintenance amounted to $140,000 last year, Downey said.

The Dodge Rams will go to detectives and maintenance staff.

The county board is expected to vote on the sheriff’s request at its Tuesday meeting. Wheeler said if the county board disapproved — which he doubted would happen — the county would cancel any orders for cars.

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