Roanoke Rapids City Council Thursday evening rescinded a motion made in December to enter into a vehicle leasing plan for the police and fire departments.
Instead the panel opted to pull money from the fund balance and buy the vehicles — five Durangos and a Ford F-150 — locally.
The city will purchase the vehicles from White Motors and allocated $190,000 from its fund balance with an understanding by its March 16 meeting an installment financing proposal be brought to the table which would replace the money council agreed to withdraw.
“After due consideration, it has been determined that the best option to immediately purchase vehicles for the city’s police and fire departments is to utilize fund balance monies for their purchase,” City Manager Joseph Scherer wrote in an action request form for the specially called meeting.
Scherer wrote in the form that the fund balance arrangement comes with “the understanding that we will in the near future bring an installment financing proposal for the same amount to you for approval.”
The five Dodge Durangos will be used by the police department while F-150 will be used by the fire department as the new vehicle for the battalion chief. The pickup will also be used to carry equipment used after fires to the station for cleaning before putting it back on the fire trucks, Chief Jason Patrick said. The process is part of the fire department’s cancer awareness and prevention initiative.
Council had originally voted on a leasing contract with Enterprise Fleet Management to lease five Durangos and a Chevrolet Silverado.
“Since we’re in the city of Roanoke Rapids we need to do local business and support our merchants here,” Councilman Wayne Smith said following the meeting. “They have the same automobile that Fleet does, the same price so we’re better off to do it local.”
City Attorney Geoffrey Davis said because the city is buying the vehicles outright and using fund balance, “The city is going to go out and negotiate financing with a bank. The city can get pretty good interest rates. It would basically be a financing agreement like any civilian who would go and get a vehicle.”
Once that is done, Davis said, the bank would “basically pay us the money we just invested in those vehicles and turn around and put that back into the fund balance. So it allows us to go ahead and purchase them now, get into a financing agreement and put that money back into the fund balance.”
Councilman Carl Ferebee said the end goal is when the city gets into next fiscal year budget discussions is to look at the vehicles and see “if we are able to rotate additional ones out. This is allowing us to go ahead and get the five vehicles now so that they can start the rotation.”