Government Fleet Top News

New Study Says Salt Lake County Received Top Deals on Cars with One-Year Rotation

August 10, 2005

SALT LAKE COUNTY, UT – Scrapping some of Salt Lake County's Rapid Rotation Program in the fleet division may not save taxpayers money after all, according to a report by the Salt Lake Tribune. Instead, according to the county's own fiscal analysts, it could cost $8,000 per year per cruiser on Sheriff's Office cars alone. Translation: a million-dollar annual hit to taxpayers. Under the current system, a sheriff's Ford Crown Victoria can be purchased and fully equipped for $24,500. If sold just one year later, the county can get $20,500. But wait two years, the value plummets to $12,500. And after four years, the police cruisers nab less than $4,000 at auction houses, said Darrin Casper, county council fiscal analyst. Paul Lauria, a fleet consultant with Maryland-based Mercury Associates, says the recommendation to shift the rotation to three or four years is still in draft form. But he stands by the findings. In the meantime, the county's analysis mirrors the message of former fleet manager Nick Morgan, who was fired in June. He says he showed the same numbers to public works officials, "but no one seemed to believe us. It validates what we've been doing all along. The program works. It always has worked. It's too bad it's been so damaged and people have maligned it so much." Public Works Director John Patterson has said proposed changes to the fleet's operations would save taxpayers millions over the next decade. Since then, officials from public works and the mayor's office frequently flagged rapid rotation as the next program to be cut. The fleet division has been folded into a newly created administrative services department. But a resolution on how often to rotate has been sluggish – presumably because of the consultant's research, reported the Salt Lake Tribune. Doug Willmore, the county's chief administrative officer calls the disparity between the two recommendations "a local aberration" since Salt Lake County is the only entity that swaps out police cruisers after a year. Sheriff Aaron Kennard says the suggestion to keep vehicles longer simply "doesn't make sense. No one wants to buy a 3- or 4-year old patrol car," he said. Fiscal analyst Casper says selling the cruisers before they depreciate will keep the fleet in the black and provide other cities with top-notch cars. "It creates a win-win situation." Even Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon hinted the county may decide to trash that part of the study. "We're going to tweak their numbers to a more-localized result," said the mayor, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

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