GRETNA, LA - Declining sales tax revenues have forced numerous cuts and reductions at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, and now take-home vehicles for more than three dozen staff members may be cut, according to The Times-Picayune.

Anticipating a 5-percent drop in total revenue for the 2010 budget, Sheriff Newell Normand said changing the vehicle policy can save the department more than $300,000. Next year, 39 employees will lose their take-home vehicles, and 20 more vehicles could be eliminated, reported the Picayune.

Chief financial officer Paul Rivera said that about half of the 39 vehicle cuts, which altogether would save $323,000, would affect deputies working at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna.

In addition to the purchase price of $21,000 per car, the department spends $8,300 annually for each car's insurance, maintenance and gasoline, Rivera said. By not replacing each of the 39 vehicles every four years as part of its fleet, the Sheriff's Office would save an additional $819,000.

Normand said eliminating take-home cars for several administrators made sense. Vehicles will still be provided for staff members handling enforcement duties.

Meanwhile, officials have slashed 69 jobs next year through attrition and will revamp the use of the volunteer reserve deputies to save money, Normand said. Instead of reserve officers being allowed to choose the shifts and districts they will work from, they will be assigned to task forces that are matched to crime trends, the sheriff said. That will allow district commanders to better utilize paid deputies and reduce overtime.

The department has slightly fewer than 1,000 total take-home cars. Detectives, deputies, and employees with the rank of captain and above are allowed to take home cars for a fee that ranges up to $200 a month. The fees were raised in September to help offset high fuel costs.