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Getting new cruisers: Grayson council discusses police car lease program

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 New police cruisers have been on the agenda for Grayson City Council since before Chief Travis Steele took over the position from retired Chief Kevin McDavid, but the city got one step closer to making a decision on the issue during their regular meeting last Tuesday. The police department discussed a possible fleet management program for lease of police and, potentially, other city vehicles with council during that meeting. 

By leasing instead of buying, the city could see savings over time on maintenance costs, according to the department. Instead of paying to repair an older vehicle they were buying or had purchased, they could trade those vehicles out every five years for new vehicles, or choose to hold onto them if they were satisfied with the performance. Regular vehicle maintenance, like oil changes, would still be the responsibility of the department, as with any other lease. But instead of the city handling that as they went, it would all be billed through the leasing service. The service would then bill the city at one time for those regular maintenance costs. 

Steele told council one of the other things he liked about the program was that the department had the ability to tell the service not only how many vehicles they wanted, but when they would like to take delivery. He explained this would allow the company to begin the process, but would also allow the department to prepare for the cost and to put off delivery until funds were expected to be available to cover the cost of replacing the new vehicles. This feature seemed to allay the fears of councilperson Pearl Crum, who expressed concerns about the cost of the program when the city was operating on a tight budget. 

Steele said another feature of the program that could benefit the city was the offer to sell any existing vehicles that the department wanted to replace. This, he explained, would help the department get the most out of existing vehicles before leasing new vehicles through the program. It would also spare the department the time and effort of selling the older vehicles. 

“We have the option of having the Enterprise Company sell those (existing vehicles) or we could sell them ourselves if we want to,” he said. 

With the “original program” he said, they were looking at seven new police cars and two new vehicles for the fire department. 

“One of the (fire department) rescue trucks would need replaced and one of the SUVs,” he said. 

In addition to being used by the Carter County sheriff department and other county systems, the Enterprise service is endorsed by the Kentucky League of Cities. Code enforcement officer Duane Suttles explained that this means many other cities also utilize the program. 

Councilperson Pam Nash made a motion to allow the police department to begin the process of placing an order for the cars they want. While this doesn’t yet lock the city or the police department into a lease agreement, it allows Enterprise to come back with an agreement and a price so council will be able to make an informed decision. 

Council voted to approve beginning the process, with councilperson Pearl Crum the lone “no” vote. Crum said she would oppose the agreement until council had something in writing for city attorney Jason Greer to review and advise council on. 

In other department reports, alcoholic beverage officer Willis Johnson told council that restaurants with a liquor license can waive one year of license fees, due to lost alcohol sales related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fee waiver doesn’t apply to liquor stores, as they weren’t hurt in the same way by closures. 

Council also moved to pass suggested code enforcement ordinance amendments to the city attorney for review and preparation of new language that council could vote to give a first reading to at the next regular council meeting. Suttles explained to council that his suggested changes were to clean up old and obsolete language and policy. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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