Amount budgeted for vehicle replacement over next four years isn’t enough
By Janelle Fisher
HOBART – A potential lease agreement between the Village of Hobart and Enterprise for police and public works vehicles was up for discussion at the Tuesday, July 5 Village Board meeting – as a possible solution for addressing rising costs.
Due to what Village Administrator Aaron Kramer described as astronomical inflation, the budgeted amount for replacing police vehicles over the next four years will not be enough.
“What we thought when we did the five-year capital for 2023 was $77,000 to rotate two vehicles out of the fleet and purchase two vehicles,” he said. “Where I thought we were going to spend X amount of dollars, with this new potential base and inflationary, we are looking at eventually another $100,000 to $125,000 over the next four years, just in police vehicles.”
If the village chooses to instead lease its police and public works vehicles, Kramer said the village would have new vehicles every two years with the possibility to come out ahead or break even when the vehicles are turned in and sold – something that isn’t happening now, even with the vehicles being purchased at the government rate.
“We get vehicles at the government rate… which helps us,” he said. “But as you can see, what we’re thinking for next year’s budget isn’t enough help.”
Kramer said if the village leases the vehicles from Enterprise, “we still have considerable resale value.”
“Based on (Enterprise’s) experience, there’s potential that those cars, when we go back into the wholesale market and they’re sold at auction or wherever they sell them, we’re going to come up slightly ahead or break even,” he said.
One area where costs might increase with the leasing plan is maintenance, but Kramer said maintenance costs are likely to increase soon regardless of whether the vehicles are leased or purchased as maintenance is currently done in-house, but won’t be able to for much longer.
“Our maintenance programs right now are run by the police staff,” he said. “We do have a very nice maintenance program in terms of budgetary impact. That will not continue for the next 10 years.”
Kramer also said maintenance costs aren’t guaranteed to go up, since having new vehicles every two years would mean some of the bigger maintenance expenses wouldn’t present themselves.
He also said newer vehicles may be more efficient and save on fuel costs.
“We’re driving nearly brand new vehicles every two years,” he said, “so the maintenance is going to go way down because we won’t be putting brakes in, we’re not going to be putting engines in them. All the maintenance that happens in the third year and fourth year is going to fall by the wayside… So we’re driving new vehicles with a lot less maintenance and better fuel mileage.”
Some concerns were raised over the potential costs associated with retrofitting new police vehicles every two years, but Police Chief Randy Bani said most equipment can be transferred from one car to another, and that those costs would be there whether they bought or leased vehicles.
“As long as we can take the equipment from this squad and put it in this squad then we’re fine,” Bani said. “That would be a fixed cost regardless of the direction we went – whether we lease it or buy it, we have to outfit it.”
In the Fleet Planning Analysis provided to Hobart, Enterprise estimated a total amount of savings over 10 years of $254,694 for the police fleet and $325,519 for the public works fleet.
Kramer said that exact savings amount isn’t guaranteed as there is a certain “cone of uncertainty in finances the further you get out.”
Village President Rich Heidel spoke in support of the proposal, saying it would be irresponsible to miss out on the potential savings.
“Nobody can quantify or guarantee what amount of savings will be realized,” he said. “But it is true to say that if we do nothing, we will have lost at least that potential… To do nothing at this point, in my view, is irresponsible.”
The board will potentially take action on a decision regarding the lease agreement at its next meeting Tuesday, July 19.
The Town of Lawrence will also review and take action on the plan, as the police fleet is a shared expense between the two municipalities and leasing the vehicles will not be possible unless both boards approve it.
New officer joins ranks
A new police officer, Mark Stary, was officially sworn in to the Hobart-Lawrence Police Department at the July 5, meeting.
Stary grew up in Kaukauna, received his degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and has worked for the Department of Corrections at the Dodge Correctional Institute, in a group home and most recently at the Manitowoc County Jail.
Stary’s parents, Jeff and Donna, helped pin his badge on after he was sworn in.