NEW FRANKLIN After getting needed questions answered about the need to replace two police vehicles, New Franklin City Council Feb. 1 approved the purchase of two Ford Interceptor police SUVs at a cost of police interceptor SUV at cost of approximately $53,000.
New Franklin Police Chief Dan Davidson was asked to address council at the Feb. 1 meeting by New Franklin City Council Vice President Harry Gehm. Davidson explained that the department, which is facing a tight budget, has been able to maintain its fleet of police vehicles because it stays with a regular replacement schedule.
In 2016, one vehicle was replaced and in 2014, two were replaced.
"We have two to three officers responsible for each car so they can keep track of the maintenance needed," Davidson said.
Councilman Jim Cotts and Councilwoman Judy Jones questioned the need now because funds are not in the budget for the purchase. City Treasurer Susan Cooke explained that the request for replacement vehicles is standard and part of the five-year police department budget. Funds to pay for the vehicles are expected to arrive in March in the form of the increased city income tax, which was increased from 1 percent to 2 percent in the August 2016 election.
Davidson said the vehicles are paid for when they arrive, which is estimated at four to five months.
"Can you consider ordering one now and the other in the summer?" Cotts asked Davidson.
The police chief answered they would be taking a risk that a second vehicle order could not arrive in time it would be needed in the fleet. Jones asked Davidson if the department could only replace one in 2017. Davidson answered "no," and Council President David Stock agreed.
"If we don’t replace it, we are dealing with maintenance issues down the road," Stock said.
The vote to replace two police vehicles was 5 to 1, with Jones voting no.
"The money is not there and I would not purchase anything, knowing the funds are not in the budget," she said.
The two Interceptors will be purchased from White’s Ford in Orville at $26,438 each. There is an additional cost of several thousand dollars for each car to add police lights and inside detail.
Davidson explained that the department has 10 vehicles, and it will get rid of a 2006 Crown Victoria car. Adding the two vehicles would bring the fleet to 11. He said three of the cars it is keeping have more than 100,000 miles on them.
"We have spent only $20,000 in vehicle maintenance costs on the fleet in the last 5 years," Davidson said. " I think that is pretty good."
He reminded council that the cars are run daily and rotated in 24 hour cycles and need to be reliable.
"We check for maintenance on all cars once per week," he said.