January 04, 2012TILTON — "To lease or not to lease," said Chairman of the Tilton Select Board, Pat Consentino, on Dec. 22 as she opened discussions between selectmen, Police Chief Robert Cormier and Lt. Ryan Martin as to what methods the town should use to obtain new police cruisers in the coming year.
At a meeting with the budget committee earlier last month, Consentino had informed them the board was considering the purchase of one new police cruiser in their 2012 budget, or the possibility of leasing two vehicles. Budget committee Chair Toni Belair adamantly told Consentino she was not in favor of leasing.
"Just say 'No' to leasing," Belair told selectmen at the time.
At their subsequent weekly meeting, held just before Christmas, Cormier told the board he had received an estimate of $24,465 to purchase a new Ford Intercept, or $26,610 to include a service contract for the vehicle. A lease would cost the town $9,588.21 annually per car, with an extended service contract but no extended warrantee. Equipment and paint was not included in either estimate.
Martin said obtaining new cruisers would mean the department could retire the 2005 and 2006 cruisers, which have the highest mileage.
Selectman Joe Jesseman expressed the opinion that he would prefer to buy any vehicles outright, since leasing would cost the town an extra $2,000 in interest.
Selectman Katherine Dawson inquired as to why two vehicles were being requested.
"I thought a number of years ago, we'd gotten back on the path of buying only one per year," she said.
Cormier told her two of the frontline vehicles are currently out of service, one with transmission problems, throwing off the rotation in how the cruisers are used for patrol, and adding undue mileage to others. Two new cruisers would allow the department to return to the proper rotation and ease mileage woes on the older cars.
"This issue is not that any of the vehicles have outlived their expectancy, but every time (the officers) are behind the wheel, they need to be in a safe and sound vehicle, and mileage is getting high on some of these cruisers," Consentino added.
The three 2006 frontline cars, all leased in 2007, are at this time above 130,000 miles, and beginning to show signs of wear and tear due to their heavy usage.
Finance Director Tim Pearson informed the board that the town could actually purchase two vehicles in 2012 if they would like to encumber money from the 2011 General Fund for one vehicle. With some funding toward another cruiser already earmarked in the board's proposed 2012 police budget, there is an additional $6,850 in the department's Detail Fund that could help purchase a second cruiser. Despite that expense, selectmen would still present voters with a level funded budget for the coming year. Should more money become available through police details before the vehicle is bought, the impact on the budget would be even less.
"So, we do have enough available that would allow for those purchases this year," Pearson said.
After discussion, the board voted unanimously to allow for an encumbrance from the General Fund for one cruiser, not to exceed $29,500, and called for the second to come from their budget as written, in conjunction with the Detail Fund. Both cars were directed to be purchased from AutoServ in Tilton. The capped expense for the two vehicles is also meant to include a swap over of any usable lights and equipment from the older cars as well as paint, decals and the installation of roll cages.
"We'll make everything work at that price," Cormier assured the selectmen.
The board also authorized the chief to expend the $2,000 needed to repair the transmission on the other 2006 vehicle. No decision was made on how to dispose of the two higher mileage cars but Cormier told selectmen they could possibly bring in $1,000 for the town at a state auction or, as suggested by Pearson, could be repainted and used as municipal vehicles for town business.