Cary looks at possibility of leasing municipal vehicles

The village of Cary recently discussed the possibility of leasing its fleet of police, public works and administrative vehicles through Enterprise Fleet Management as it begins to replace older vehicles.

Eric Morimoto, director of public works, said at a Committee of the Whole meeting last week that village officials have been trying to find a sustainable way to maintain and replace their vehicles and heavy equipment.

“This is an idea that has been utilized by some of the area municipalities besides us, so we’re not blazing an entirely new trail, but it is an idea that’s worked for other government agencies and one that we wanted to consider,” Morimoto said.

Currently, Enterprise partners with about 40 government entities, including Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Geneva, Arlington Heights, North Chicago and Kane County.

Gabby Harding of Enterprise Fleet said the company has a full-service program, with Enterprise Fleet acquiring the vehicles and ordering them directly from the manufacturer, as well as providing a fixed-maintenance program for newly leased vehicles.

Through the program, Enterprise would sell old vehicles on the village’s behalf, as well as help with license and the title registration and administrative side.

The company also would help the village figure out the right time to replace every vehicle in the fleet for what it said would be optimal cost-savings.

“By lowering the age of your fleet, the operational costs are going to go down as well,” Harding said.

In the Public Works Department, Enterprise recommended selling four vehicles, worth about $20,000. If the village were to pay cash to replace these, it would cost $144,000. In comparison, the first-year lease with Enterprise would cost about $26,000.

For police vehicles, based on age, mileage and officer safety, Enterprise recommended replacing two patrol units. Paying cash for these would be about $84,000, compared with a first-year lease cost of $21,000 through Enterprise.

Mayor Mark Kownick said this would be a gradual process, and as vehicles age out the village would look at leasing new ones.

“We wouldn’t do it all at once,” Kownick said. “I imagine we would do this for a ... few years and see how it works out for us and see how these types of programs work.”

He added that the village was looking at ways to stretch its vehicle dollars, so leasing seems like “a decent plan.”

Village Administrator Jake Rife said this is more of a long-term solution for the village.

“I think it’s a good option for us. Stretch the dollars out, and I think there’s some cost savings too that can be realized with this program,” he said.

Contracts would be on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis.

Morimoto said with only a single mechanic on staff, leasing would lend itself better efficiencies and maintenance on these vehicles.

“With this program, these vehicles will often be turned around on a short time frame, where we’re actually not having to do oil changes on some of these vehicles, on a one-year lease, for example,” Morimoto said.

It also would give the mechanic the ability to work on other projects that had been deferred, Morimoto said.

Although no final decisions were made at the Committee of the Whole meeting, members of the group, who also make up the village’s Board of Trustees, were receptive to the idea.

Rife said the leasing of village vehicles will be discussed during Cary’s Capital Improvement Program discussions.