Stillwater could save by leasing police vehicles

Stillwater City Council instructed City Administrator Larry Hansen to take a further look at a leasing option from Enterprise that could help reduce police department vehicle costs.

As part of the department’s 2014 budget, $120,000 was approved to replace three marked patrol vehicles while funding wasn’t available for an administrative vehicle.

A memo to the council said the department had purchased two marked patrol cars for $52,000 and the total cost to the city for three new marked patrol cars could be $94,000 leaving $26,000 in the allotted budget.

Police Chief John Gannaway told council that the department had recently heard about a leasing program option available through Enterprise. The program would be used to purchase administrative vehicles.

“With this option we could get four administrative vehicles really cheap,” Gannaway told council.

The leasing option would be funded with the leftover money in the budget, and budgeted yearly. The monthly cost of a 2014 Ford Explorer on this plan would be $505 per month on a four year lease or $6,060 a year for one vehicle with a maintenance plan.

Leasing four vehicles for a year under this plan would cost the department $24,404. The department would be allowed to add safety equipment as necessary to the vehicles without additional cost, and when they would sell it back, the city would be
credited, applying that credit to renew a lease for another four years on a new vehicle. These vehicles would not be pursuit-rated vehicles.

“This year we’d have the remaining money in the budget to be used towards those cars,” Gannaway said. “We’ve sold cars in the past at state auctions but it wouldn’t touch the value that they do have.”

Currently the department has five administrative vehicles that range in age from seven to 10 years. Over the past four years, Gannaway said, the maintenance for the vehicles that he wants to replace was $16,435. Replacing the vehicles would reduce costs.

“My issue with this is that it sounds too good to be true,” Councilmember Doug Menikheim said.

“That’s what we thought at first too,” Hansen said. “But Washington County has also employed this leasing program option, and I’d like to talk with them before we make any decisions so I’m just asking if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, and I’ll look into it.”

The council consented to having Hansen look into the option further. If the council decides to move forward with the option, the program would cost around $80,000 for the life of program, and Hansen said it would be included in budgets going forward. A presentation on the findings and staff recommendation will be brought to council in the future.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]