The Latah County Sheriff’s Office may have $275,000 to spend on five new vehicles instead of the $200,000 allotment approved in August to purchase four patrol vehicles after Latah County commissioners agreed to open the fiscal 2020 budget Monday.

The commissioners will hold a public comment period at a later date before choosing to approve the $75,000 increase.

Sheriff Richie Skiles and Chief Deputy Tim Besst requested the extra money after one of its 2016 Ford Explorers was totaled in a crash Sept. 17 on State Highway 8 east of Troy.

The two deputies in the vehicle sustained minor injuries after a semitractor-trailer attempted to make a U-turn and the Explorer, with lights and sirens on, struck the truck, according to an Idaho State Police news release.

Both deputies were released from Gritman Medical Center in Moscow the night of the crash and returned to work within a few days, Skiles said.

Besst said the four Ford Explorers and one Ford F-150 pickup truck, including installation of police equipment in the vehicles, will cost about $278,000.

Besst said $275,000 would be sufficient. Some of the equipment in the totaled vehicle can be used in one of the new Ford Explorers.

Skiles estimated receiving $15,000 to $20,000 in insurance money from the crash.

Besides replacing the crashed vehicle, Skiles said the request for $75,000 in extra money stemmed from price estimates for Explorers increasing higher than expected.

“We’re trying really hard to get our fleet back up into shape,” Commissioner Dave McGraw said.

Besst said after the meeting, the sheriff’s office goal is to rotate patrol vehicles out of patrol at 120,000 miles. He said some patrol vehicles are at 120,000 miles.

Besst said two vehicles are in reserve — a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria and a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe. The Tahoe has been used as a replacement for the crashed Explorer.

County Clerk/Auditor/Recorder Henrianne Westberg said the commissioners passed a conservative fiscal 2020 budget, which started Oct. 1, and she was glad they did.

Without knowing what will happen with items like Medicaid expansion and revenue — both of which could affect the county financially — Westberg said she pressed for a conservative budget.

The commissioners approved the $20.6 million budget in August, which is about $800,000 more than last fiscal year’s budget.

“I would appreciate the board’s support in being fiscally conservative in Latah County and not feeling like we can open the budget anytime and push money — working capital — into different areas,” she said.

“We have money, but we really need to be careful about how we spend it,” Westberg added.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to

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