Need for 12

Mike Haggard works on a 2005 Chevrolet Impala at the city garage Monday morning, just after the cruiser broke down while on the road. The vehicle is one of 12 that officials are looking at replacing in coming months.

A proposal to purchase 12 new police vehicles at a cost somewhere under $600,000 was discussed in Thursday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session, as officials asked that additional information be gathered for further talks next month.

“For the last two years, I’ve been on the police and fire committee, and I know that we’ve got some serious problems with vehicles,” said Alderman Danny Bryant. “They’re getting worse every day – it’s getting to where it’s hard to keep them on the street ... I’m convinced there’s a way we could do this, solve all of our transportation problems, within the next few months and save the taxpayers money.”

Bryant suggested the city take out a low-interest loan, the repayment of which would be funded out of debt service instead of the capital fund, allowing the capital fund, normally used for such purposes, to build up and accommodate purchases down the road, purchases such as a fire truck anticipated in the relatively near future as well as other police vehicles as the rest of the fleet ages in the years to come.

“If we replace all these vehicles earlier, rather than later, we’ll get a little more money for them,” he continued, noting that interest costs would also be offset by savings in excessive repair costs for the existing vehicles being considered for replacement. Those vehicles range in age from nine to 19 years old, he said, adding that the new vehicles would be purchased on a state contract.

“It would also put our employees in safer, more reliable units, and finally give us an opportunity to set a schedule and plan for the replacement of other police units,” he said.

Current members of the city’s police and fire committee, Aldermen Tonya Allen and Donna Hartman, concurred with Bryant’s comments.

“I was convinced at the end of the meeting that this would save taxpayers money in the long run and that it would be great for the department,” said Allen, referring to a previous committee meeting, adding the safety of the vehicles is also a point that should be considered.

“Among the 27 patrol cars right now, some of them are really aged, have high mileage and are in poor mechanical condition,” said Hartman. “Really, we’re putting our officers in danger ... We need to get into a rotation to update this fleet in the future, after these vehicles have been replaced, and stay in that rotation, because you’ll get more for these vehicles in a rotation rather than waiting until they’re crippled and parked in the back of the police department.”

Alderman Jeff Alder asked questions about the number of vehicles needed, and Police Chief Richard Howell confirmed the 12 as he cited details about those in the shop for repairs. Alder did concur with the proposal, indicating the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund would likely offer the city the lowest interest rates.

“I’m all for the safety and everything that’s been talked about,” said Vice Mayor Dorothy Small. “I just think we need to see the numbers, look at the comparisons, and what our costs are going to be.”

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