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Nye County seeks $900K loan for new vehicles

The Nye County Commission has adopted a resolution outlining its intention to secure a $900,000 medium-term loan to acquire new vehicles to update its aging fleet.

County officials said they are hoping that this move will not only provide a more up-to-date, safe and effective fleet but also result in overall reduced costs for such factors as maintenance, insurance premiums and down time due to breakdowns, bringing a double benefit to the county.

Nye County Comptroller Savannah Rucker said she has been working toward this end for two and a half years and she expressed her excitement to see it finally coming to fruition. She sat down for an interview on the subject on March 21, explaining the ins and outs of the fleet vehicles program.

“Our fleet is aging, it is very, very old,” Rucker stated. “We have 50 vehicles that are 20 years old or older and 192 that are over 10 years old. In conjunction with this, I think we have a bloated fleet because we have an old fleet.”

Rucker said the ultimate goal would be to bring in new vehicles but not to increase the total county vehicle count. While acquiring new cars, trucks and SUVs, the county will also consolidate the fleet to reduce the number of vehicles and consequently, the costs associated with the fleet.

The county is planning to work with Enterprise, which Rucker noted is a company with extensive experience in this arena and which operates a fleet management program that the county will utilize.

“Year one, it’s going to be a sweep. We are going to try to get rid of our oldest fleet, our fleet that does not run. We don’t need to continue keeping that insured and attempting to maintain it,” Rucker said. “We are also dealing with safety issues.”

Nye County Public Information Officer Arnold Knightly chimed in that some vehicles were in such a condition that staff was not authorized to drive them to Tonopah, where much county business is conducted. Many of the vehicles predate safety features that are now a standard, such as airbags and electronic stability control.

“That’s scary,” Rucker stated.

The vehicles the county decides to get rid of will not simply be dragged off to the junkyard, however, they will be auctioned off with the proceeds able to either go toward the fleet program or be used for other purposes.

Although all of the precise details of the program have not been nailed down yet, Rucker did state that she anticipated approximately 35 new vehicles would be acquired in the first year. “But I think we are going to access more than we take. That is the goal, reduce that vehicle count,” she said.

The Enterprise fleet management program would provide the county with many options to utilize. “If we get approval from DTax (Nevada Department of Taxation) for the medium-term obligation, then the master lease agreement will go before the board on April 17. In that agreement it talks about the flexibility… They give us the flexibility to do whatever we need, based on the individual vehicle and our needs for that year,” Rucker said. “We can purchase and we can lease. That will depend on the vehicle… Essentially it is a lease to own over five years. Maybe a certain vehicle is a problem child, maybe we got a sedan and we actually need an SUV. This gives us the flexibility to move with that.”

Professionalism was another component of the plan to update the fleet, Knightly said. “Driving those cars, you are representing the county. We want to give the best impression possible when we are out on official county business,” he remarked.

“Yes, we need to be taken seriously in the local government world,” Rucker agreed. “And that feeds into employee morale as well.”

The lease agreement will cover a large majority of the county’s vehicles, encompassing any that can be driven with a regular class D driver’s license. “Every single fleet vehicle that can be driven by a class D driver, any regular vehicle,” Rucker said. “No specialty vehicles, like ambulances, or the larger public works trucks.”

While vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license cannot be leased or purchased through the agreement, they will be included in one portion of the program, data tracking.

“Enterprise has a fleet management program,” Rucker said. “We can take that information and pair that with the county’s database, to track the miles driven, miles per gallon, maintenance costs and other information. This will also help the county figure out which departments may have too many or not enough vehicles assigned to them. I think this is going to be a wonderful partnership. Enterprise is going to be taking a lot of workload off the county for getting rid of these, replacing vehicles and identifying vehicles that need to be replaced after we take delivery of the first-year vehicles.”

Rucker said at this point, the county is expecting to go through one of the Pahrump businesses to acquire the new vehicles.

“We are hoping to purchase from one of the local dealerships because, why would we purchase through a foreign dealer?” Rucker said. “We would have to take the vehicle to Vegas for service, whereas if we purchase through Chevy, Dodge, Jeep, Buick or any of the dealers here, we can just drive it up the street for warranty work.”

As a final note, Rucker said the $900,000 amount may seem high to some but the cost of maintenance, insurance and the costs incurred because of the inefficiency of the current fleet, she fully expected the county to actually see a budgetary benefit from the program.

“The objectives of the program are to identify an effective vehicle life cycle that maximizes potential equity at time of resale, creating a conservative savings of $1,070,728 in 10 years or $107,073 annually,” she detailed. “It seems like a scary number but in the long term, it’s going to level out, it is going to drop our maintenance costs and we are actually going to end up netting money in the end.”

Rucker said she will present the fleet vehicle program plan to the Nye County Commission after receiving the Nevada Department of Taxation’s approval to take out the $900,000 loan, at which time the commission will make the final decision on whether or not to move forward with the program.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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