City of College Place

College Place City Hall

COLLEGE PLACE — Police Chief Troy Tomaras asked College Place City Council on Tuesday if the department could lease its vehicles rather than buy them, as leasing saves money and time among other things.

Council members requested more information at the workshop, such as a side-by-side comparison on cost. They also had questions, Mayor Harvey Crowder said.

“We will be putting together the answers and presenting that to the Council workshop the first Tuesday in April,” Crowder wrote in an email. “Since the Council can’t take any action during a workshop, it will eventually become an action item.”

Tomaras said he’s working with them.

“The Council wants to make the best decision for our community, as they should,” he said. “They have been very supportive, and I’m happy to provide additional information to help reach a decision.”

At this week’s workshop, he provided estimates from two leasing agencies for consideration including North Bend, Wash.,-based F.C.I. Custom Police Vehicles and Emergency Responder Services Inc., based out of Hillsboro, Ore., and Boise, Idaho.

He said the Pasco Police Department has used F.C.I. Custom Police Vehicles for 20 years.

College Place Police Department’s Capital Replacement Plan from now through 2024 includes buying a new vehicle each year, but the fund was insufficient, according to Tomaras. The budget was $307,000, or $45,000 per year, while the cost for buying a vehicle starts at $30,460 for a Dodge Durango without any equipment or other costs.

Equipment, such as lights on top the car, are about $1,500, a radio is about $1,300, and the list goes on. Some equipment, such as laptop computer stands, could be reused, he said.

However, leasing that same vehicle for five years from ERS Inc., with all the equipment, maintenance, and other costs included, was about $49,435.89, or $11,000 per year. He said the department could decide to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease for $1, sell it at auction and return any money to the vehicle fund.

“One thing to keep in mind is that leasing saves time on man hours getting procurement, ordering, billing, installing and maintenance,” Tomaras said of the equipment in particular.

Additionally, the department’s 15 vehicles are aging and well-used, he said, such as three patrol cars at more than five years old, the school resource vehicle at eight, and the three newly acquired but used Wasington State Patrol vehicles with more than 110,000 miles each.

He said experts recommend replacing police vehicles every five years or 100,000 miles because they are used aggressively for emergency response and proactive law enforcement, which is wearing on vehicles and could be detrimental during pursuit.

Tomaras also said the department is considering buying Dodge Durangos instead of Ford Interceptors because Ford isn’t making the vehicle this year and the nearest Ford dealership is in Tri-Cities, whereas Dodge is local, making it easier for maintenance.

Four patrol cars from eight to five years old need to be replaced as soon as possible, according to Tomaras’s proposal.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.