Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chief makes case for new vehicles

November 21, 2007

Basehor Police Chief Terry Horner says his department is behind the curve and trying to play catch up when it comes to patrol cars.

During Monday night's City Council meeting, Horner presented a few different options to replace some of the older or higher-mileage vehicles, as well as one with a blown engine.

"This is a plan that would address some of the vehicle fleet situation and work toward a situation where we could replace our vehicles at lower mileages," City Administrator Carl Slaugh said. "We have purchased two new vehicles in the past two years and have budgeted another one in 2008. We're still a little bit behind schedule in replacing some of the older vehicles."

Horner said the city did not purchase any new patrol cars between 2003 and 2006. Three out of the seven in the fleet have more than 120,000 miles and two others will be nearing the 100,000-mile mark soon. A 2003 Ford Crown Victoria that recently broke down has a little more than 142,000 miles.

Sgt. Greg Hallgrimson pointed out that police vehicles age faster because they idle for long periods of time and sometimes run 16 to 24 hours straight before they are turned off.

Horner said the older cars are costing the city money. The department already has spent more than $19,000 in maintenance fees this year.

He pushed for a plan that calls for purchasing two new vehicles before the end of the year and another one in 2008.

A shortage of full- and part-time staff, he said, has created extra funds that could be used to purchase one of the vehicles this year. Funds could be transferred from other police line items to pay for the other car, and the city has already budgeted for a new car in 2008.

While he also pushed for Crown Victorias, one plan called for a Chevrolet Impala to replace the chief's vehicle, a 1997 Crown Victoria. Impalas cost less, but Horner said it would end up costing the city more because most of the fleet is made up of Crown Victorias and the equipment, such as cages and light bars, would not be interchangeable with the two vehicles.

"The city of Tonganoxie has them and has had decent luck with them," Horner said about Impalas. "But, at the Law Enforcement Training Center, officers have to pass an emergency vehicle operation course. They only train on Crown Vics at the academy."

Council member Keith Sifford encouraged Horner to at least take a look at replacing the fleet with Impalas or Dodge Intrepids rather than continuing to purchase Crown Victorias.

"I just think we have some bad luck with these cars," Sifford said. "Nineteen thousand dollars in maintenance fees per year? Come on, you've got to be kidding me. That's outrageous."

Horner said studies show that Crown Victorias are the best vehicles for police fleets.

"There is an argument," he said. "The Impala gets better gas mileage, but does it hold up to the Crown Vic? I've been doing this 24 years and the answer is no."

Council member Jim Washington agreed with Sifford.

"I read an article recently that said Ford is going to stop making the Crown Vic sometime in the near future," Washington said. "I think it's prudent that we look at something else at this point."

The council approved, 5-0, to purchase one police vehicle now and another one in 2008. The chief was instructed to come back to the council next month with comparisons of the Crown Victoria and the Chevrolet Impala.

In other action Monday night, the council:

  • Approved, 5-0, the final development plan for Pebblebrooke Phase II.
  • Approved, 5-0, the final plat and subdivision improvement agreement for Pebblebrooke Phase II.
  • Tabled, 5-0, pay request No. 3 to H.E. Miller Construction, change order No. 4 and acceptance of completion certificate for 147th Street and Parallel Road project.
  • Approved, 5-0, to authorize administrative staff to write off the delinquent account for Gary Wells, Cedar Falls, due to bankruptcy order.
  • Denied, 3-2, with Sifford and Terry Hill in favor, options for analysis of the municipal portion of the Basehor Town Center project and letter of engagement with Springsted for economic development services.
  • Approved, 5-0, a cereal malt beverage license for Casey's General Store.
  • Tabled, 5-0, approval of the personnel manual.
  • Approved, 5-0, bids for videotaping and cleaning sewer lines.
  • Approved, 5-0, a proposal for an extension of the trail in Basehor City Park to the new gazebo and maintenance of existing trails.
  • Met in executive session for 45 minutes to discuss attorney-client privilege and personnel matters.
  • Tabled, 5-0, an ordinance to proceed with condemnation of right-of-way on Baker property.

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