By Mark Waite
Sheriff Tony DeMeo will be allowed to purchase six of 10 patrol vehicles he requested after county commissioners gave their approval Tuesday. The new vehicles will cost about $45,000 each, including equipment and installation.
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen made the motion to award only part of the request, after Comptroller Susan Paprocki said it would deplete too much of the $542,000 left in a capital funds account earmarked for this budget year. Paprocki suggested funding five patrol vehicles this year and five next year, but DeMeo said another car badly needed to be replaced.
Lt. Frank Jarvis reported the Nye County Sheriff’s Office has 55 vehicles with more than 100,000 miles, 19 of them are driven by deputies on patrol.
He delivered a report on the maintenance costs for six vehicles as an example, for five of them the cost last year was from $1,671 up to $2,800; total vehicle maintenance costs over the life of the vehicles ranged from $10,672 to $22,869.
The vehicles will be purchased through the state purchasing system. “We have two car dealerships in town and it sure would be nice to at least offer them the opportunity to bid,” Commissioner Butch Borasky said.
County purchasing agent Judy Dodge said the two dealerships could submit a bid to state purchasing and they would automatically go on the vendor list. DeMeo said the last time the county purchased patrol cars a local dealer came in with a low bid, but that changed when the light equipment was changed. The sheriff said he gave direction to his lieutenant several years ago to work wth local dealerships on the process of getting on the state purchasing system.
Jarvis recalled when a car dealer in Phoenix, Avondale Dodge, won a contract to supply 14 patrol vehicles in March 2008 for $447,476. In June 2010, the sheriff requested 10 patrol vehicles but received four.
“We can’t give preference to a local dealership,” Jarvis said.
Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said she’s driving a county vehicle that’s approaching 200,000 miles, the heater is going out and she had to replace a battery herself. The county has a great maintenance system, Wichman said, but vehicles aren’t being built to only last 100,000 miles any more.
“I live way out in the boonies guys, I don’t want to be stuck anywhere,” she said.
Schinhofen said the reason he made the motion to approve the purchase was because, “I was well aware of his DeMeo’s past history of going out for local bids, what we tried to do and have been unsuccessful at what we have been doing to get our local fellas to do it.”
Commissioner Donna Cox asked if there was a way for the county to recoup some of the money by auctioning off old vehicles. Jarvis said the old vehicles are put into equipment services for use elsewhere in the county.
Jarvis said some of the equipment cannot be adapted to the new vehicles. Some of the radar equipment is 14, 15 years old and needs to be replaced, he said.
Wichman, who formerly worked for her family’s trucking company in Idaho, said vehicles that are rotated between different drivers deteriorate quicker. Jarvis said Nye County tries to assign vehicles to one driver.
“These vehicles that we’re replacing, they actually have been on the road for 12 years,” DeMeo said.