Friday, Apr 25, 2014
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Port Richey to buy new utility trucks, police vehicles

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PORT RICHEY — Relatively low mileage on city utility trucks and police cars to be replaced raised some eyebrows among City Council members last week.

Council members also questioned a policy regarding city vehicles driven home by utility workers on call in case of emergency.

Penny for Pasco funds would pay for the five new utility trucks, budgeted at about $160,000.

The city will buy two new police vehicles, for about $50,000 total, through state associations of sheriffs and counties, plus another $15,000 for law enforcement add-on equipment. In another twist, Police Chief Dave Brown asked to switch to small sport utility vehicles to replace two sedans.

Council members agreed city staff had negotiated bargain prices for the new vehicles, but were upset that existing vehicles did not hold up longer.

“They’re just getting broken in,” Councilwoman Nancy Britton commented about the vehicles, which had between 77,000 and 85.000 miles on their odometers.

Britton cast the lone vote against the vehicle purchases.

Resident Matthew Todd was blunter during public comments. He questioned the competence of city maintenance workers and objected to letting utility workers take home city vehicles.

“You’re a laughingstock” for wasting money, Todd said.

“I’d like to know we’re going to get more than 77,000 miles” from new utility vehicles before approving the $160,000 purchase price, Councilman Steve O’Neill said.

“It’s more expensive to keep these (existing) vehicles” because of repairs, City Manager Tom O’Neill said.

O’Neill, who has With decades of fleet management experience, O’Neill verified the “extremely poor condition” of vehicles to be replaced. The five new utility trucks would be models more suited for heavy-duty work.

Mileage does not always reflect the condition of city vehicles, city staff insisted.

“They tend to get beat up,” Councilman Bill Colombo said.

At the police department, 2001 and 2006 Crown Victoria sedans are becoming unreliable, Brown said. Squad cars often run 24 hours a day because of round-the-clock shifts of officers, he emphasized.

Brown said the SUV replacement vehicles would be roomierthan sedans for officers and their equipment.

The V6 engines in the SUVs should provide enough power and he has received assurances they are about as maneuverable as cars, Brown said.

corth@suncoastnews.com

(727) 815-1068

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