Rocky Fork Enterprise

City service director details equipment-replacement strategy

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Gahanna is implementing a new system to maintain and purchase equipment as it moves forward with a community investment program.

City services director Dottie Franey told ThisWeek the city is excited to use a new program for fleet maintenance whose mission is to procure and maintain effective, safe, reliable equipment at the lowest cost possible.

She provided a detailed fleet-management report to council March 26 as a precursor to request the creation of two accounts: a police equipment-replacement program and a general-fund equipment-replacement program.

Council is considering a $515,000 supplemental to purchase 10 police cruisers and a $436,300 supplemental for the 2012 equipment-replacement program.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb announced a two-year, $4.9 million community investment plan for equipment maintenance and community enhancements last month.

Items included as part of that plan will go through the regular legislative process.

Franey said the city has done minimal equipment replacement because of depressed revenues over the past several years.General-fund revenues are used to purchase police, parks and administrative equipment purchases.

Past practice involved equipment replacement at predetermined timeframes when the city had available funds.

Franey said that method made it difficult to identify critical needs when trying to determine the right equipment to replace. It didn’t facilitate frugal decision-making either, she said.

Over the past several years, Franey said, the police department fell behind in replacing its fleet that has high mileage, and the parks department has been receiving hand-me-downs.

Lt. Jeff Spence said the police department has 20 vehicles and that no purchases have been made since 2009.

A philosophical change was needed, according to Franey.

A business-case form has been created for all equipment-replacement purchases. Any city department choosing to reduce its fleet would have the proceeds from the sale dedicated to their department’s future equipment purchases. “We believe if a department chooses to get rid of obsolete equipment, the proceeds should stay (with that department),” she said.

Franey said the new system to replace equipment would be based on four factors: life cost of equipment, total mileage expectancy, total lifespan expectancy and actual annual use versus expected annual use. A rating then will be determined by averaging all four factors.

Franey said the city also has devised several spreadsheets over the past several years, documenting police equipment, vehicles that have odometers (excluding police) and equipment with hourly ratings.

The city’s oldest vehicle is a 1985 GMC van that’s part of the fleet-maintenance division. At the end of 2011, it had almost 280,000 miles.

The newest vehicle is a 2012 Ford F-250 truck for the water and sewer department. It was purchased at the end of last year and had 70 miles on it.

Franey said the spreadsheet is updated at the end of every year. She said equipment funding has varied over the years, and the city needs a sustainable funding stream.

“Most important is to commit to an annual allotment for equipment replacement,” Franey said.

For 2013, she recommended $250,000 annually for the police equipment program. She also suggested $300,000 in 2013 for the general-fund equipment program and $250,000 in subsequent years.

In addition to the fleet equipment replacement, the community investment plan also calls for $500,000 this year for the annual street-paving program.

Franey said council would be informed of the streets included in that project in the near future.

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