Fort Smith hears of vehicle savings

Posted: November 1, 2017 at 3:27 a.m.

FORT SMITH -- It wouldn't save the city money to lease its vehicles rather than purchase them, but by leasing the city could take better care of its vehicles for the same amount, the city's finance director told city directors Tuesday.

In a discussion Tuesday, city directors gave Jennifer Walker permission to continue to develop a plan to lease the city's 375 vehicles, consisting of 134 police vehicles and 241 nonpolice vehicles. There was no schedule set for the board to decide on the issue.

The savings, which an analysis said could total $2.5 million over 10 years, would be in equity in the vehicles and in savings in maintenance and fuel costs.

The analysis, put together by Enterprise Fleet Management Inc., proposed to replace the city's fleet over five years. In the first year, 85 of the city's oldest nonpolice vehicles and 69 of the police vehicles would be replaced.

After the purchased vehicles were phased out, the city would replace nonpolice vehicles every five years and police vehicles every four years, Walker said.

The analysis said 37 percent of the city's light- and medium-duty vehicles are 10 years or older. The average age of the current fleet is 7.1 years, but a list of vehicles showed some were purchased as long ago as 1996.

Older vehicles need more maintenance, don't use fuel efficiently and often don't have all the safety features, Walker said.

The analysis said six of the city's vehicles predate standard inclusion of air bags, which began in 1998. Another 54 vehicles lacked antilock brakes made standard in 2007, and 83 vehicles predated electronic stability control, which was standardized in 2012.

It showed that maintenance this year for the 241 nonpolice fleet would cost more than $344,000 and fuel costs would total nearly $262,000. The expenses for the leased vehicles by the 10th year were estimated at $80,455 for maintenance and $218,700 for fuel.

State Desk on 11/01/2017