PRINCESS ANNE — A shortage of semiconductors plaguing assembly lines worldwide is holding up the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office from obtaining a new vehicle.
Sheriff Ronnie Howard said if he orders a Dodge Durango today through the state contract with Hertrich, "we would get it next summer."
"If we order a Ford Explorer, we can get it in March."
"They say that it’s everywhere that vehicles are so far behind" and it’s because of the lack of computer chips.
He asked for advice from the County Commissioners, explaining he could purchase a 2021 Durango and have it delivered from an out-of-state broker for $40,000 or wait and spend the $36,000 he is budgeted.
The broker is in the business of buying new police vehicles and reselling them "when we can’t find anything," the sheriff said. "I don’t want to spend more money than I have to. If I can hold out, I will."
Commissioner Rex Simpkins, like the others, was not in favor of dealing with the broker and giving $4,000 more "to a shark." And Commissioner Eldon Willing said he calls those kind of people "opportunists."
Sheriff Howard said Hertich will call him if a deal falls through, but for now, even consumer vehicles are scarce. He was told the Pocomoke dealership has over 70 vehicles in South Carolina right now that it cannot pick up "because there’s no chips." "There is nothing out there right now."
The commissioners at their July 6 meeting asked the sheriff to return in four months if he doesn’t get a call from Hertrich. "You may be able to get a 2022 by then," said County Administrator Doug Taylor.