The Porter County
Council questioned a fleet management agreement for the County’s Department
of Development and Storm Water Management at its meeting Tuesday.
According to County
Planner Robert Thompson, the agreement, with Enterprise, would mean the
Development and Storm Water Management Department trades-in three current
vehicles and gets five new vehicles--two trucks, two SUVs, and one sedan--in
return. The trade-in value of the three older vehicles will be applied to
the contract’s annual fee as a credit.
Per the agreement,
Enterprise handles vehicle maintenance and rotates them out as they reach
maximum resale value, replacing them with newer models. After the trade-ins,
the five new vehicles would increase the Department’s fleet from seven
vehicles to nine. “We’re getting new employees, so we’re going to need
this,” Thompson said.
At its meeting last
week, the Porter County Board of Commissioners expressed excitement at the
potential cost savings from the agreement, which County Attorney Scott
McClure said operates like a lease, though the County would own the vehicles
involved. The Commissioners approved Thompson to enter the agreement at that
meeting, but Thompson reported he hasn’t signed anything without the
Council’s approval of the expense.
$9,000 from the Storm Water fund, $9,000 from the Cumulative Bridge fund,
and $9,000 from the Plan Commission fund be earmarked for the upfront cost
of the contract.
Council member Bob
Poparad, D-1st, asked why the County shouldn’t just buy the new vehicles.
Thompson said County vehicles are often used until they’re “rattling down
the road” and have no resale value. The agreement ensures that the vehicles
are traded-in once they reach a “sweet spot” of value and replaced with
newer models. Thompson said the agreement could also help the County budget,
since new vehicle costs for the Department can be boiled down to a known
The annual fee is
$25,173, with an expected deduction of $19,000 for the three trade-ins,
which Thompson said could bring the net cost down to $7,000 or less for the
first year. “I’d be looking at $50,000 to get two new vehicles,” he added.
Sylvia Graham, D-At-large, and Council President Dan Whitten, D-At-large,
wanted more details on the contract. “I’m hearing three different terms,”
Whitten said. “I’m hearing lease. I’m hearing lease purchase. I’m hearing
pre-paid lease, and those are very different terms for contract purposes.”
“I was told by our
attorney Scott McClure that for all intents and purposes, we will own the
vehicles,” Thompson responded.
The Council voted
to table the discussion so all members could review the contract. Council
member Greg Simms, D-3rd, and Vice-president Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, were
Poparad said, “I’m
not against them getting vehicles, I just don’t know if leasing is in our
In other Storm
Water Department business, the Council approved a Form 144 increasing the
pay for a highway engineering project manager position that’s been vacant
for over a year. Thompson said he’s confident he can fill the position by
offering $65,000 instead of $57,200. Thompson also noted the work from this
position has been done by consultants in the lull, and filling it could save
$100,000 per year in consultant fees.
Kevin Breitzke reported having a similar issue finding a qualified survey
technician at the current rate of pay. The Council approved a Form 144 for
Breitzke to upgrade that vacant position to Survey Manager, a position that
will require ten years of surveying experience and pay between $55,000 and
approved another Form 144, a reduction in pay, requested by Facilities
Director Ray Cloyd. Cloyd said he’s looking to hire a new custodian and
wants to downgrade the pay to fit the current market. “I think $19.32 an
hour is pretty high for a custodian, and I can get someone for $15 an hour,”
that the County Council is taking its meetings on the road for the next four
months to give constituents an easier option for coming to a meeting or
addressing the Council. Whitten said the Council will hit the Portage
Lakefront for its June 25 meeting, and subsequently meet at the Porter
County Airport and yet to be determined locations in Duneland and south
Whitten said he was
excited to bring back the practice, which used to be tradition. “I think we
had a really, really good response last time we did this.”