A bid by the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office to cut down on vehicle costs by switching to a lease program has been put on hold by the Tooele County Commission.
The commission voted at their meeting Tuesday to postpone deciding on the issue until more formal documentation of the proposed savings could be presented.
“At the risk of sounding like a very unpopular guy, would I be so bold as to suggest this be put down and intimated on paper in a spreadsheet before we approve it,” said Commissioner Shawn Milne. “Tentatively, I like where this is going, but I want to see a yardstick by which I could measure every year with the budget every year.”
Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park said the proposal came out of a desire to cut vehicle costs by as much as possible, and the solution they hit upon was to lease brand-new vehicles rather than maintain and replenish the current fleet.
Lt. Jeff Morgan of the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office, who is over the department’s vehicle fleet, said the department currently spends its $160,000 budget to get four to five new vehicles per year. But another $45,000 is typically required for maintenance on existing vehicles.
Getting 11 vehicles on a three-year lease would cost the department about $95,000 and maintenance would be covered less a deductible, said Morgan. The new vehicles would also get better gas mileage — one vehicle that was test driven averaged about 18 miles per gallon on typical use, verses the approximate 11 miles per gallon the vehicles get now, he added.
Deputy Steve Hansen said by having more new vehicles in good repair, the officers would also be more safe and be better able to respond to emergencies in a way not currently practical because of current vehicle problems. In one recent emergency, where a group of teenagers were severely speeding and ultimately crashed on Village Boulevard in Stansbury Park, vehicle trouble delayed deputies.
“We couldn’t respond because we had to jump-start one of ou vehicles,” he said. “There are other vehicles with other issues. There are tires going bald — if we’re responding at high speeds, we’re putting our lives on the line. Low tire pressure, bald tires — we can easily pop tires, we can crash our vehicles. It’s a safety factor for us.”
The lease arrangement is currently in use by Grantsville City. Mayor Brent Marshall said the program has been a success since its implementation last fall.
“It’s cut our police budget drastically in both maintenance and fuel expenses, and we have vehicles that are safe on the road,” he said. “We have no complaints.”
The commission will revisit the issue at their next meeting on May 7.