Sometimes citizens ask, “Why is the city spending my tax dollars on brand new trucks every year.” It’s a fair question, as we do have about 36 half-ton pickups which we turn over annually. It may not seem logical, but the city is saving, or sometimes making money, with this practice.
Here’s how it works: Dealers can purchase vehicles for the city at a lower governmental procurement rate. Through the bidding process, a dealer offered us a 100% guaranteed buyback on certain pickup models for five years. During the past three years, the buyback price has been as much as $1,000 more than we paid for the truck originally, so we made money. This year we did pay about $1,000 net for each new truck.
With this program, we have absolutely no expense for maintenance or tires, everything is under warranty, and sometimes it even includes the oil change. The ironic thing is, to get the buyback from the dealer, we must purchase trucks that are nicer (a certain model that the dealer specifies) than we would typically buy, because they have more resale value. The Custom Trail Boss trucks the dealer specified this year are fancier on the outside than last year’s model but do have fewer features inside. We keep thinking this deal will go away, and if it does we will change our purchasing pattern, but using a new pickup for just $1,000 a year is still a very good deal for the city and taxpayers. Our police, fire, light & power, environmental, parks and public works departments have all utilized this program over the past few years.
This program only works with the few trucks mentioned. The city has about 600 pieces of rolling stock, 200 of which are cars or trucks. Trucks with a service body generally last 6-12 years. Other equipment, from garbage trucks to backhoes, vary widely according to usage. Our fleet manager, working with department heads, does a great job, rotating equipment carefully to manage efficiencies and maintenance. Every city purchase (not just vehicles) of more than $5,000 is bid to ensure the best value.
I’ve also been asked why some employees take city vehicles home. That is determined by policy and is generally based on which employees take calls for emergencies in the water, sewer, streets and power departments. With police, all officers take vehicles home. We want those vehicles out in the community, as data shows it helps deter crime. It also allows them to respond when they are off duty if needed. Police and fire administration take emergency calls after hours as well, and have a vehicle with communications equipment and tools.
I welcome such questions! It tells me citizens care about how we spend their tax dollars. We care as well, and are always looking for ways to save money, maximize resources, and creatively solve problems. My staff and I are always happy to answer questions and provide any information you as a citizen and taxpayer would like. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I do try to answer any email or phone call I receive.