City buys five new police cruisers

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By Jimmie Earls

The Springfield Police Department’s officers are about to be riding in style after the purchase of five new 2010 Dodge Chargers. The action was approved by the Springfield City Council at its Oct. 12 meeting. Springfield Police Chief Fred Armstrong told the council the new vehicles are needed because the cost of repairs to the current fleet keeps mounting.

“Since January, we have spent a little over $14,000 in repair costs for our current vehicles,” said Armstrong. “I think the lowest mileage car we have has 91,000 miles on it. We have three cars with the front ends ready to go out at some point. The last new car was purchased in 2001, so these cars are over 10 years old. We have what we call an asset forfeiture account, and there’s enough money in that account to pay the monthly payments for the first year of these vehicles. That is one of the allowable expenditures under asset forfeiture. If other funds become available, we can also use that money to help offset the cost to the city.”

Money in the asset forfeiture fund comes from the sale of real property, vehicles, watercraft, aircraft and jewelry seized by state, local or federal law enforcement during the course of a criminal investigation. Armstrong said the department currently has $30,000 in its asset forfeiture fund. He also added the department has $14,800 in its regular budget for the purchase of a new vehicle.

The total estimated cost for the five cars is $137,315. The four new cruisers cost $27,905 each, while the demo cruiser, which the city has been using for the past few months, costs $25,695.

The vehicles are being purchased for state contract pricing on 60-month lease-to-buy contracts. The total price includes the installation of all emergency equipment such as consoles, radios and lights.

“I got a quote on five cruisers – four brand new ones and one demo,” added Armstrong. “The reason I put the demo in there is that I saved quite a bit of money on equipment. You don’t save a whole lot on the price of the car, but it’s got 4,000 miles (on it), which isn’t a lot...and I’ll take that car.”

Armstrong told the council there were three payment options to purchase the vehicles - five annual payments of $29,725.27 with one advance payment and a one-dollar buyout at 21.6475 percent interest; 20 quarterly payments of $7,544.26 with one advance payment and a one-dollar buyout at 5.49 percent interest; or 60 monthly payments of $2,523.22 with one advance payment and a one-dollar buyout at 1.84 percent interest.

“The cheapest way to purchase these on a lease-to-buy option, with a one-dollar buyout at the end of the lease, is to pay by the month,” Armstrong said. “The monthly interest rate is 1.8 percent. Over a five year period, you save approximately $5,000 by paying by the month. If you lease with a yearly payment, the interest rate is 21 percent, and that’s a lot of interest. We will pay the first 12 monthly payments for each vehicle, plus pay the advance payment of $2,523 for the first month out of asset forfeiture.”

L&W Emergency Equipment, located in Lawrenceburg, Ky., will install the police consoles in the new cruisers, as well as Legend light bar kits from Federal Signal. The department will keep the radios they currently use and have them reinstalled. Two items that will not be installed are dual weapons mounts and push bumpers. Each new cruiser will also be given new graphics and striping. The chief said there was too much liability with the push bumpers causing damage to other cars, and there was no need for the dual weapons mounts since only three cruisers carry assault weapons.

Armstrong said the financing for the new cruisers will come from Chase Bank, although the council asked if any other financing options were available through the Kentucky League of Cities.

“I will check with the KLC on another interest rate. They ought to give me an answer in five minutes,” said the chief.

“I know it’s a big mistake to buy five cars at one time,” said council member Paul Borders. “We should have been buying a car or two every year, then you wouldn’t have this problem.”

Springfield Mayor John Cecconi said he feels the cars should be purchased now.

“Regardless of where we get the financing, we need to go ahead and purchase the vehicles,” said Cecconi.

Borders motioned to approve the purchase of the new cruisers, but the motion died without a second. After some additional discussion, Borders once again motioned to approve the purchase with a second by Carolyn Hardin. The council voted 5-0 to approve, with council member John Hardin absent for the vote.

Armstrong said the city will put the old police vehicles out for bid and eventually sell them off. Once financing is complete and equipment and graphics are in place, Armstrong said the new cruisers should be on the street within the next couple of weeks.


In other city business

• The council awarded a contract to Brady Electric of Springfield to rewire the eight light poles on the upper Little League baseball and softball fields at Idle Hour Park for $5,800. Other bids submitted to the city were from A.M. Electric in Springfield for $5,900, and Springfield Contracting (SPCO) for $6,122.77. Brady Electric was also awarded a contract to replace 59 1000-watt light bulbs on the light poles for a cost of $3,100.


• RAME Contracting, LLC was awarded the low-bid contract to demolish three properties on East High Street as part of Phase II of the East High Street Redevelopment Project. RAME’s bid was $6,000 ($2,000 each for 515, 517 and 519 East High Street). Other bids submitted were from Coulter Building Corp., who bid $6,950 ($2,300 for 515 and 517, and $2,350 for 519) and from SPCO, LLC, who bid $8,400 ($2,800 for each property). RAME will be awarded the contract pending proof of liability and workers comp insurance. Carolyn Hardin motioned to award the contract to RAME, with a second by Willie Ellery. The council voted 5-1 in favor with Debbie Wakefield abstaining.


• The developers of the Saddlebrook subdivision have asked the city to annex the subdivision’s streets. According to civil engineer Bradley Spalding, the roads were inspected on Aug. 14 and Sept. 18, and he said the roads meet the minimum standards as required by Washington County and the city of Springfield. Wakefield made the motion to accept the streets in Saddlebrook subdivision into the city. Council member Mike Elliott seconded the motion, and the council voted unanimously to approve.


• The council discussed the annual Christmas dinner for city employees. Mike Elliott said he thought the money could be better spent somewhere else, while other council members said many city employees use the annual dinner as their own Christmas celebration, and would otherwise not have a Christmas dinner. Springfield City Administrator Laurie Smith said the cost of the dinner is approximately $2,300 with close to 160 attendees last year.

“I look at the dinner as a ‘thank you’ for what our city employees do,” said Wakefield. “Let’s face it, some of the salaries around here are pretty low.”

Ellery made the motion to have Christmas dinner for city employees, with a second by Wakefield. The council voted 5-1 in favor, with Elliott the lone opposing vote.


• In a report sent to Springfield Assistant City Treasurer Marie Blandford from Kathy Elliott of the Springfield Tourism Commission, the Springfield restaurant and lodging tax brought in a total of $61,066.49 for the second quarter of 2010, ending May 31. That amount will be split equally between the tourism commission and the city. Each will receive $30,533.25


• The city’s annual “Trick or Treat on Main Street” for children 12 and under will take place Friday, Oct. 29 from 4-5:30 p.m. downtown. Trick or Treat will take place in the neighborhoods from 5:30-7 p.m.


• Mayor Cecconi signed executive orders appointing John McDaniel to the Housing Authority for a four-year term that expires Feb. 2014, Jimmie Carrico to the water board for a three-year term to expire January 2013 and John Parker Wharton to the Main Street Renaissance Kentucky Committee for a one-year term due to expire in October 2011.


• Business at this meeting was conducted with five of the six council members in attendance. Councilman John Hardin was not present.