Ogdensburg eyes lease agreement for city vehicle fleet; savings cited

Police cars would be part of a plan to replace city-owned vehicle with leased vehicles from Enterprise Fleet Management. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — Leasing, rather than owning, the 40 cars and light trucks in the city’s fleet could save money and provide a safer workplace for employees, according to Enterprise Fleet Management Senior Account Manager Rob Jaworski.

Mr. Jaworski spoke to City Council on Monday night about a plan to gradually replace the city’s aging fleet of vehicles.

“We looked at this fleet management proposal two years ago for our light vehicles — our cars and pickup trucks,” City Comptroller Timothy J. Johnson said. “Back then up-front costs kept us from entering into a proposal.”

The New York State Financial Restructuring Board included fleet management in its recommendations released earlier this year, Mr. Johnson said.

In its report, the Financial Restructuring Board said it could award a grant of up to $280,000 for a fleet management leasing program.

“The proposal is to replace 22 of the vehicles in the first two years. And the $280,000 would cover that,” Mr. Johnson said. “And we would replace all 40 vehicles in four years. “

Enterprise Fleet Management already manages fleets for 23 counties in New York, including St. Lawrence County, Mr. Jaworski said.

“When fleets start to age, safety starts to come into play,” Mr. Jaworski said. “There are larger operating costs and you are putting money into a vehicle that is not necessarily worth what the repair cost is.”

Enterprise offers an open-ended equity lease which allows the city to pay for the vehicle as used, with no mileage for wear and tear restrictions, Mr. Jaworski said.

Safety, Mr. Jaworski said, is an issue with the city’s fleet. There are 12 vehicles on the road that were bought before 2007 when side airbags and anti-lock brakes were mandated. Electronic stability control was mandated in 2012 and the city has 20 vehicles older than that.

“Our plan will allow the city to implement a four-year replacement plan,” Mr. Jaworski said. “So over the next four years you phase out of city-owned vehicles and into Enterprise Fleet Management vehicles and over the next four years phase out of Enterprise open-ended vehicle leases into future open-ended equity lease vehicles.”

The money earned from selling the leased vehicles is used to offset the cost of new vehicles, Mr. Jaworski said.

“That’s how we get to a long-term sustainable savings of about $99,000 per year when we compare what the city would be spending to replace four or five vehicles out of a capital budget,” he said.

“It’s wonderful that the FRB is offering us money, hopefully, for this and to get us on a different path,” Deputy Mayor Daniel E. Skamperle said. “My question is, should we do this, is it going to be within the current budget without having to raise taxes?”

“What we are hoping to accomplish, with the help of the FRB, is the first initial two years of this program, they will fund it,” Mr. Johnson said. “In the long-term, we have savings built in. We are going to have to review in two years and if we have to we’ll ask for more money — if we have to.”

No action was taken regarding the fleet management program Monday night.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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