TARPON SPRINGS — Municipal vehicles typically lead tough lives, racking up mileage and being put in extreme situations on a daily basis, leading to shorter lifespans and the need to replace them regularly.
With that in mind, the Tarpon Springs City Commission recently approved the purchase of new vehicles from a state-approved contractor for as much as $654,339. The move will provide a dozen new rides, from hybrid cars to SUVs, for the police, fire and public works departments and replace several aging, damaged and destroyed members of the city’s fleet.
“These are all budgeted vehicles and it’s that time when we purchase them,” City Manager Mark LeCouris said Jan. 12.
According to the city, the Sourcewell contract calls for the purchase of the following vehicles from Alan Jay Fleet Sales: seven Chevrolet Tahoe patrol units; one additional Chevrolet Tahoe; one Ford Interceptor hybrid; one Dodge Ram 2500; and two Toyota RAV-4 hybrids.
While the five commissioners ultimately unanimously approved the purchases, they did have several questions and suggestions, including whether it’s possible to repurpose some aging vehicles for use in other departments.
“I think any way we can reutilize or reuse vehicles in the city is going to be a good thing to do instead of sending them to auction,” Vice Mayor Jacob Karr said. “So if we can get more life out of these vehicles from the police and fire department, I think we need to do that.”
However, according to LeCouris as well as several department heads, the vehicles that are being replaced aren’t really interchangeable and most have met or exceeded their life expectancy.
“The vehicle that’s being replaced is a 2010, so it’s about 11 years old now,” Fire Chief Scott Young said in regard to the single Tahoe. “It is in workable condition; it’s just met its life expectancy for us.”
Commissioner Connor Donovan suggested they use magnets with city’s seal rather than pay for expensive car wraps, while Mayor Chris Alahouzos praised officials for adding hybrid vehicles to the fleet.
“I just want to say that I’m very glad that we are getting three hybrid vehicles this year, one Ford and two Toyotas,” Alahouzos said. “It’s a good start.”
With that, the motion to approve the purchase passed by a 5-0 vote.
After the meeting, the mayor spoke about the need to keep the city’s fleet up to date and the importance of trusting the department heads to tell them when it’s time to upgrade.
“I’m confident when staff asks for vehicles and equipment it’s because they need them to provide services to the people of Tarpon Springs,” he said. “I trust their judgment and when they need something, it’s important they have the tools to do the job.”
Alahouzos also reiterated he was happy they were getting the three hybrid vehicles.
“I think that’s very important,” he said.