County seeks move to more leased vehicles

Chautauqua County has decided to explore renting more vehicles, instead of owning them outright.

During this week’s county Legislature meeting, officials unanimously approved a resolution to permit the county’s Department of Public Facilities to lease up to an additional 38 vehicles. The vehicles will come from Enterprise Fleet Management Services.

Currently the county DPF leases 16 vehicles. This new agreement would mean the county will lease up to 54 vehicles.

During committee meetings last week, DPF Director Brad Bentley discussed why he felt leasing vehicles is more advantageous than owning them. “As a trial run, I’ve been leasing some of my vehicles over the last two years to prove the concept that this makes sense for the county to do and to move forward,” he said during the Audit and Control Committee meeting.

Bentley said it has been his experience that this is advantageous. “I’ve seen direct monetary value with this,” he said.

He said the county has been able to turn in one-year-old vehicles and net the vehicle equity into a future lease. “I have vehicles that are netting between $6,000 and $10,000 after one year. If you take that on a four year lease payment, that’s a $100 to $150 deduction in your monthly lease payment and you get a brand new vehicle and a brand new warranty. You’re not replacing tires, you’re not replacing brakes,” he said.

Bentley said the reason the county is doing this now is because there’s high demand for used vehicles. “Our value of our existing fleet is probably at the maximum it will be for some time,” he said. “If we are to choose to go all in this leasing program, I feel that this is the most opportune time to do it.”

The resolution will only apply for Department of Public Facilities vehicles only. It will not apply to CARTS vehicles because they receive different grants for their buses.

Enterprise told Bentley the county fleet is estimated at $450,000 for the 38 vehicles owned by the Department of Public Facilities.

According to Budget Director Kathleen Dennison, the county’s department of Health and Human Services has requested a price quote from Fleet Management Services for its vehicles. She said Sheriff Jim Quattrone is not in favor of leasing vehicles for his department, in part because of the large amount of after-market equipment that needs to be added to vehicles.

Even though the resolution was passed by the full county legislature, Bentley said he is going to examine each lease individually before entering into a lease agreement. He said he may lease up to 38 vehicles, but said he won’t enter into an agreement if it’s not advantageous for the county.


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