Proposal to lease public safety vehicles heads to Meriden City Council 

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MERIDEN — The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to lease 24 police and fire vehicles, starting with the current fiscal year, as part of a new program officials say will allow the city to modernize its fleet rapidly while also saving money. 

City Manager Timothy Coon and Finance Director Kevin McNabola presented the proposed contract with Enterprise Fleet Management during a City Council finance committee meeting Wednesday. 

For the police department, the city would lease 10 2021 Ford all-wheel-drive patrol vehicles, six 2022 Chevrolet Malibu midsize cars for detectives, two 2022 Ford Escape SUVs and one 2022 Ford F-150 pick up truck. For the fire department, the city would lease five 2022 Ford F-150 trucks. 

According to a spreadsheet McNabola shared with finance committee members, the cost to purchase and upfit the vehicles outright would be $1,026,408. The costs to lease the patrol vehicles for three years and the other vehicles for five years would be $991,673, a savings of nearly $35,000, McNabola said. 

City officials would need to amend the current five-year police and fire capital budgets to factor in lease expenses. 

McNabola told finance committee members leasing the patrol vehicles, which would be the most utilized, for three years, rather than five, would be “more economically beneficial to the city” because of the wear and tear those vehicles would incur. 

McNabola explained officials are looking to replenish the police department’s fleet after this past year, during which the city lost three police vehicles after they were involved in serious accidents. 

McNabola said early on in the discussions with Enterprise, officials discussed the possibility of leasing 80 vehicles — including parks department and public works vehicles. McNabola noted the city tends to hold onto its parks and public works vehicles for periods well over five years. As such, it “did not make financial sense to entertain leasing those vehicles,” he said. 

But, police vehicles especially, depreciate quickly, McNabola said. 

“We thought it would be best to have a program where the PD is replenished with the state-of-the-art, newest line of vehicles every three to five years, instead of holding onto something that could be a safety issue or liability issue down the road,” he said. 

Finance committee members appeared to be in agreement, and ultimately voted unanimously on a resolution recommending the full council enter into the lease agreements.  

Deputy Mayor Michael Cardona observed the city has not been able to keep up with replenishing police cars through its current purchasing program. 

“This leasing program with police vehicles is the way to go,” Cardona said. “I’m not so sure it would be smart city wide.”

Finance committee member Dan Brunet had questions about one of the terms in the lease contract presented to the committee. It included a mileage limit of 15,000 miles per year. 

“What is the expectation of us going over that? And what is the cost if we do go over?” Brunet asked. 

McNabola and Coon said that issue was addressed during discussions with Enterprise. 

Coon said it was conveyed to city officials that the mileage component was “unlimited and there would be no issues.”

He said the lease agreement presented to the committee was its “earliest draft” and there “still a couple of items left on the lease that were being addressed by various legal discussions.”

Later in the week, Kevin Maloney, spokesman for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said it’s not uncommon for municipalities to lease some town or city owned vehicles. He is not aware of towns that have large leasing plans involving public safety vehicles. 

“This certainly seems like Meriden is looking at breaking new ground. It improves the cost effectiveness, and would help reduce cost to the town for a large fleet of public safety vehicles,” Maloney said. “Towns are always looking for how to reduce costs, and how to provide the necessary level of services. I think Meriden should be commended for looking at that.”


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