Police get two of three requested vehicles


Local News

September 25, 2018 - 11:20 AM

Iola City Council members approved the purchase of two vehicles for the Iola Police Department, but declined buying a third vehicle for other departments to use.
Council members approved Monday, 4-2, the purchase of a 2019 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Vehicle for $24,993 from Twin Motors Ford. The purchase includes a $2,800 trade-in allowance for IPD’s outgoing vehicle, a 2013/14 Ford Utility Interceptor with 126,000 miles on its odometer.
The Twin Motors bid is $2,678.32 higher than a competing bid from Pittsburg Ford, or a difference of 12 percent. Voting against the purchase were Danny Mathew and Aaron Franklin. Chase Martin, who works at Twin Motors, abstained from voting.
The Council also approved the purchase of a 2018 Ford Explorer from Twin Motors as a detective’s vehicle. Since 2016, the department has used a seized vehicle, a 2007 Hyundai SUV. The Twin bid of $28,850 was $1,165.32 higher than the Pittsburg Ford bid, or a difference of 4.21 percent. That vote passed, 5-1, with Mathew opposed and Martin abstaining.
Council members decided, at least for now, to hold off on replacing a 1999 Ford Taurus in the city administrator’s office with another 2018 Explorer. If approved, the vehicle would have become the city’s primary out-of-town trip vehicle for all departments to use, Fleming said, with the current “trip vehicle,” a 2007 Ford Windstar Minivan being relegated as a backup vehicle. The Taurus’s age and increasing mechanical issues makes it unsuitable for much more than driving around town, Fleming said. The Taurus has about 66,000 miles on its odometer.

THE VOTES came after an extended, two-pronged discussion on (a) how quickly to replace police vehicles and others with relatively low mileage; and (b) when it’s acceptable to depart from the city’s purchasing policy to favor local bidders.
Ford noted the combined bid from Twin Motors was about 7.69 percent higher than the bid from Pittsburg. The city’s purchasing policy sets a threshold of a 7 percent difference, if the Council were to opt for the local bidder.
“I know we put this policy in place for a reason,” Ford said. “And I know we need to save money, but are we cutting our own throat by not giving this business to local business?”
Franklin agreed, to a point, noting he also favored shopping local, but he objected to replacing a five-year-old vehicle, with little documented proof through maintenance records that showed the vehicle needed to be replaced.
“I’d hate to be on one of these councils that votes no on one of these police units,” Mayor Jon Wells said. “That’s not where we cut corners.”
“There’s nowhere we cut them,” Franklin responded. “We’ve replaced our vehicles every three or four years, regardless (of condition). We always go to the worst-case scenario. We’ve battled over water rates, battled over maintenance budget, and now we’re going to spend $80,000 on vehicles?”
Considering the worst-case scenario is a must for emergency crews, the mayor responded.
Because every day could be could be a worst-case scenario,” Wells said. “We don’t get to pick the day a high-speed chase happens. We don’t get to pick where it occurs. I’m a little offended to say we shouldn’t think worst-case scenario when it comes to police and it comes to fire and it comes to EMS. Those people are putting their lives on the line every single day, and they don’t know what they’re getting into that day. We should give them the equipment that isn’t going to break in the field, period.”
Police Chief Jared Warner said the department does track its maintenance costs, and has spent “a considerable amount more” on maintaining the outgoing unit. He did not have those dollar figures immediately available.
Mathew said he wasn’t philosophically opposed to purchasing the vehicles, but noted the Council will soon begin talks on its purchasing policy, and favored waiting until afterward.


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