- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - A 1967 Bell OH-58 helicopter previously used by the Tupelo Police Department is being turned over to the state as surplus property.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1103SpE ) the city council this week approved Police Chief Bart Aguirre’s recommendation to give the helicopter to Mississippi’s Office of Surplus Property. Items placed with the state are available to other government agencies; they are not sold to the general public.

Aguirre said annual maintenance and limited use for the high-dollar aircraft no longer justified full-time status. Police officials have said costs for fuel, storage, insurance and other requirements cost Tupelo taxpayers roughly $50,000 a year.

In the past fiscal year, Tupelo budgeted $20,000 for maintenance and $3,600 for professional pilot fees. No funding was provided this year.

“In the 20 years I’ve been here I can’t remember using it more than five times,” said assistant police chief Allan Gilbert.

The helicopter has served Tupelo five years longer than Gilbert.

The single-engine, four-passenger vehicle is valued at $200,000, city insurance records show.

Gilbert said police have an arrangement with the local National Guard unit to assist with air support if needed.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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