The city’s school district is purchasing more than a dozen utility vehicles through a $707,889 lease agreement with a Butler-based auto dealership to replenish some of the aging vehicles in its fleet.
17 4×4 utility vehicles are being purchased from Route 23 Automall, according to a resolution that was approved by the school board on Wednesday March 18th, 2015. School officials said the purchase was necessary because some of the utility vehicles in the district’s fleet are over 20 years old.
School board member Errol Kerr said the district should have been replacing these vehicles as they aged out. “This is something they should have done over the last 10 years,” said Kerr.
12 vehicles were taken out of service because they were “dangerous for our employees to ride in,” said James Smith, district’s director of security. Smith said he was recently put in charge of fleet management only to find a large number of vehicle required replacement.
Smith said the district’s fleet has 74 vehicles of which six were auctioned off due to age and repair cost to the schools. He said some of the utility vehicles were antiquated parts were unavailable at repair time.
“We weren’t getting to use these vehicle,” said Smith. “They weren’t cost effective to repair.”
The director said the district will save in repair costs because during the five-year lease period much of the repair will be covered under warranty. “Warranty will cover those vehicles that would have required the district to pay,” he said. “We save from not having to maintain the old vehicles.”
Presently, he said, the district spends exorbitant amount of money to maintain its fleet. Smith said it would using the same funds without incurring additional expenses.
After the lease agreement concludes, Smith said, the district will purchase the vehicles at $1. He said the district is paying the lowest possible price for the utility vehicles – each costing $41,640 — which come equipped with snow plows.
“We got almost the same as the state contract price,” said Smith. “To ensure we got the best price we put the leasing agreement to bid.”
The district ran advertisements in local newspapers to solicit bids. Smith said the Butler-based company came in with the lowest bid.
Smith said in addition to cutting down repair and vehicle maintenance costs, the district will have better response time for building repairs and improve snow plowing capacity at public school facilities.