The lease program outlined by the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office as a way to cut down on vehicle costs has been given the green light.
The Tooele County Commission gave its unanimous approval at its meeting Tuesday night for the program, which is expected to save the county thousands of dollars in vehicle purchase costs and maintenance.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Lt. Jeff Morgan of the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office, said that by trading in both currently used vehicles and those damaged beyond practical repair, the department could get a three-year lease for 11 vehicles for about $119,000, which would be a reduction from the $160,000 currently on the budget for new vehicle purchases.
In the past, the department has purchased four or five new vehicles with that money, with approximately $45,000 needed for maintenance on existing vehicles per year.
Commissioner Shawn Milne, who had put the proposal on hold after the commission’s April 16 meeting and required the department to create the spreadsheet for more exact comparison, thanked Morgan for returning with the estimates.
He also thanked the department for creating a money-saving measure in the county’s current budget predicament.
The lease vehicles will come from Ken Garff Ford in Salt Lake City, which has the state bid for vehicle leases for police departments. Historically, though, vehicles have been purchased from Quality Automotive Group when the dealership matched the state bid for vehicles.
Jack Bell, Quality Automotive Group’s new inventory manager, said at Tuesday night’s meeting he was concerned the plan had gone forward without Quality being consulted.
“No one darkened my door,” he said.
In an interview following the meeting, Morgan said the sheriff’s office still planned to have the leased vehicles go to Quality for maintenance, but it was decided to go with Ken Garff Ford for the leases because the dealership is familiar with the state corporate lease program.
Garff handles vehicle leases for more than 60 police departments — including Grantsville City Police Department — and the sheriff’s office wants to ensure its journey through uncharted waters will go smoothly.
“We knew we wanted to go through somebody with the experience already who’s doing the corporate leases. Where Ken Garff’s been doing this, they’re doing this for 60 years,” said Morgan. “Quite honestly, it wouldn’t be the blind leading the blind. We could kind of lean on them to see what to do and where to go.”
Morgan said in the future, the department could re-examine its lease agreement and see if local dealerships could match the state bid on corporate leases.
The paperwork on the lease program will be finalized by May 21, and the 11 new vehicles — five for investigations, four for patrol, one for animal control and one for administrative use — should be ready to hit the road by the end of next week.