The lease plan includes 14 2017 Chevrolet Malibu sedans.  Photo courtesy of GM

The lease plan includes 14 2017 Chevrolet Malibu sedans. Photo courtesy of GM

The City of Kalamazoo, Mich., has decided to expand its vehicle leasing program after the City Commission approved a five-year $952,476 lease to replace 35 vehicles, MLive reported.

Staff evaluated the age, condition, cost of maintenance, and fuel efficiency of its existing light-duty fleet and selected 35 of the worst existing vehicles for replacement, according to the commission agenda report. The departments of Public Safety, Community Planning and Development, Public Services, and Parks and Recreation will receive the new Chevrolet and GMC vehicles.

The city has traditionally purchased light-duty vehicles with cash, but “this strategy does not work well during periods of fiscal stress and budget cutbacks,” the agenda report stated. Due to this, the city has fallen behind on vehicle replacements, resulting in an aged fleet that is expensive to maintain and operate.

City staff determined that fleet leasing is “at worst cost neutral as compared to the status quo approach.” In fact, leasing combined with proper timing of fleet disposal “could lead to substantial financial benefits to the city,” according to the agenda report.

This is phase 2 of the city’s vehicle leasing plan — in July, the City Commission approved the lease of six vehicles in a pilot leasing program. The lease with Enterprise Fleet Management includes all maintenance.

Meanwhile, city staff has organized a team to study the most cost-effective and mission-critical way to replace and manage fleet going forward.