After an unexpected, $2,000 engine problem on a 2003 Chevrolet Impala worth $3,000, the Fenton Fire Department is getting a 2011 Chevy Tahoe for $28,666. City council voted 6-1 on the issue, after some debate.
Councilman Tim Faricy voted no, saying he would support the purchase of another Impala, or a Chevrolet Malibu. The Tahoe's cost is $10,000 more than that of an Impala, Faricy said. He votes in support of the economics of the matter.
The Impala was purchased used, to replace a vehicle that was crashed, Fire Chief Bob Cairnduff said. It wasn't a good fit for the department, because it didn't have four-wheel drive. Fenton Fire Department has a contract to respond to emergencies in Tyrone Township, where they need four-wheel drive.
"The guys who use it in winter get stuck in the Impala," he said.
Councilwoman Dianne North said she commends Cairnduff's hard work and achievements, and the Tahoe is not frivolous. There are hills on U.S. 23 that are quite dangerous, and there are a lot of accidents there. She said she appreciates his hard work, and that of the other department heads.
A typical Chevrolet Tahoe costs $40,000, Cairnduff said. The fire department's new vehicle will be a special service package one, with vinyl floors for easier cleaning, for example. The city is obtaining it at the state bid contract price.
Cairnduff researched a four-year, lease-to-purchase option, but it would have cost Fenton $2,925 more than paying full price at the time of purchase.
The city recently spent more money on a vehicle from Vic Canever's, Mayor Pro Tem John Rauch said. It cost $3,200 more to purchase it, City Manager Lynn Markland said.
In addition, part of the council voted against the purchase of a vehicle for the police department, Faricy said.
After the 2011 Tahoe purchase from Shaheen Chevrolet, the fire department will have $115,000 to $116,000 left in its truck fund, Cairnduff said. The $28,666 cost of the Tahoe does not include outfitting the new vehicle. Most of the emergency equipment from the Impala can be transferred to the Tahoe, with the exception of some items that will not fit correctly.
The vehicle is a rather small part of the city's budget, but Faricy said it seems to him that Fenton keeps picking more expensive options. "It's a mentality."
He referenced a new Tahoe for the police department. The city of Flint's police department uses Malibus, Faricy said.
Osborn said that isn't true, and more than 50 percent of Flint's police vehicles are Tahoes.
City Manager Lynn Markland said he respectfully disagrees with Faricy about the mentality of Fenton department heads and employees. He's been with the city of Fenton since 2008, and each year, the city ended with a small surplus. It took the hard work of department heads and employees.
The Impala with the engine problem was scheduled for replacement next year, Cairnduff said. The fire department probably wouldn't have replaced it, though, since it had low miles (90,000) and was in fairly good condition. The $2,000 for the engine problem would be to repair the engine, not replace it.
Smith said he believes the new Tahoe is a good purchase, instead of doing things piecemeal.
Cairnduff said the new Tahoe will replace the 2003 Tahoe he uses, and the 2003 Tahoe will take the place of the Impala. The vehicle Cairnduff uses is part of his compensation package, and he uses it for anything in the city and only for business-related travel outside of Fenton. The 2003 Tahoe has around 60,000 miles on it, and he averages around 8,000 miles annually, responding to incidents 24/7, 365 days a year, he said.
The 2003 Tahoe will replace the Impala as the weekend duty officers' vehicle.
City vehicles are used differently than vehicles most people drive, said Councilwoman Cheryl King. City vehicles stop and start and "run hot," for example. She commends the fire chief on all of the money he and the fire department have saved the city, and the tremendous job he's done with obtaining grant money. She believes it's time to replace the Impala, King said.