By JONATHAN ZWEYGARDT
The Ellis County Commission voted Monday to move forward with an agreement to join the Enterprise Fleet Management Program.
Currently, Ellis County purchases vehicles outright and keeps them for several years before replacing that vehicle.
Under the fleet management program, the county will lease vehicles instead of purchasing new vehicles. The majority of the vehicles can be replaced after one year.
Ellis County Administrator Darin Myers said this week this will change how the county goes about things.
“The philosophy of the county is that, we will buy a vehicle past when it’s actually needed and then the vehicles that we have are so old that the values aren’t worth anything,” Myers said.
The county would still get the vehicles through Sourcewell, a government agency that helps entities with a number of services including cooperative purchasing, but they would be rotated out for a new vehicle and sold at auction.
Through the state contract, the county gets vehicles at a discounted rate and then they are sold at market value. The county then gets credit, through the fleet program, for the difference between the resale value and the reduced book value.
Brandon Scott, fleet consultant with Enterprise Fleet Management, told the county commission their goal is to find the optimal length of time a municipality should hold on to a vehicle before selling it to lower the cost of owning those vehicles.
“Instead of cycling out 15, 20 (or) 25 years per vehicle, we’re now cycling a lot of these vehicles (at) one or two years old,” Scott said.
He added that cycling through the vehicles this way allows the county buy low and sell high and return the proceeds back to the county.
Myers said they have identified at least 56 vehicles that can be placed into this program and estimated it will save the county approximately $800,000 over 10 years.
They have identified 29 vehicles, including six sheriff’s deputy vehicles that may be cycled through in the first year alone.
Shawnee, Leavenworth and Geary counties in Kansas have already partnered with Enterprise through the Fleet Management Program. Enterprise is also working with several school districts in the state, and they have approached the local school district as well.
County Commissioner Dean Haselhorst said he had prior experience with the program and ran into issues.
He said they dealt with delays and hurdles with needed repairs but he said it appears that they have improved when it came to working with service centers.
Scott said they have focused in the last couple of years on their maintenance program.
They have 27 authorized shops within 50 miles of Hays, including nine in Hays that will work with the county to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Chris Roth from Enterprise also joined the meeting via telephone and said they will make sure the vehicles are properly maintained because they will be worth more on the resale market if they are.
Part of the saving to the county will be on maintenance. The county most likely won’t have to worry about pricey repairs that occur in older vehicles.
The vehicles will also get better gas mileage and come with better safety features to better protect county employees on the road.
With the lease program the county has entered into, Scott said, there are no over-mileage charges, no penalties for wear and tear on vehicles, and the lease can be terminated anytime without penalty.
The county will also get to build out the vehicles with the required specifications they need including good quality tires, which both Haselhorst and Commissioner Neal Younger were concerned about.
The sheriff’s department vehicles will be delivered to a company in Wichita that will outfit them with the necessary emergency equipment.
Scott has met with several department heads and developed a plan for the county’s fleet needs.
“This is a very innovative approach. I’m kind of excited about something like this,” Commissioner Butch Schlyer said.
Myers said they will begin looking to order new vehicles in the next couple of months.