Why The City of Victorville Switched To Leasing Vehicles

May 2008, Government Fleet - Feature

by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

Budgetary constraints continue to challenge government fleets across the nation. To keep service standards up to par and drivers safely on the road, many fleets are getting creative and thinking outside the box when funds aren’t forthcoming.

The City of Victorville, Calif., has faced its own share of challenges during the past few years. When its aging fleet needed replacement, the funds just weren’t there. So Public Works Supervisor Tony Colver implemented an innovative leasing program. Vehicles are leased for five years. As vehicles come up for replacement, they have a dollar buyout at the end of that term.

"New this year, we are leasing 43 vehicles for five years through our local Ford dealership," Colver said. "We still own the other 95 percent of our vehicles."

All 43 vehicles will be delivered over the next several months and any upfitting, such as the addition of utility boxes, is handled through the dealership.

Replacement of Owned Vehicles Based on Detailed Analysis

Colver has been in his current role for 2½ years and previously worked as public works manager for 2½ years. He manages 1,200 vehicles with a 24-person staff.

Vehicles used by City drivers include pickups, sedans, vans, police patrol units, fire truck main and brush engines, airport fire and rescue units, airport graders, loaders, backhoes, Class 8 trucks, trailers, and agriculture equipment. Vehicle models include General Motors, Ford, Dodge, and Honda. The majority of the fleet are utility, ½-ton, ¾-ton, and 1-ton trucks.

Replacement cycles for vehicles owned by the City are 10 years for sedans, vans, and trucks 10,000-lbs. GVW and above, while SUVs are replaced after eight years.

"Replacement has always been up to the discretion of the fleet manager," Colver said. "We assess replacement based on lifecycle costing, including mileage, cost per miles, and replacement cost. Ultimately, the city manager has final approval."

Colver’s analysis also includes vehicle condition and safe operating status. In the past, Colver has had to keep vehicles in service longer because of lack of funds.

"We set a replacement benchmark number, and if the vehicle comes in above that number, a red flag is raised telling us it’s costing too much and it’s time to replace," he said. "We have to make sure to cover any liability concerns for operating an unsafe vehicle."

Colver also pointed out that when vehicles exceed 10 to 15 years, they enter into the category of obsolescence.

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