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Local Medina County News

Sheriff's captain explains need for new vehicles

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    A 2010 Dodge Charger with more than 200,000 miles is shown Tuesday at the Medina County Sheriffs Office. Capt. David Centner said the department is transitioning from sedans to sport-utility vehicles.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — An aging fleet of vehicles is becoming a major concern for the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. David Centner said.

Capt. David Centner told county commissioners Tuesday that the remedy is to purchase several new vehicles.

In the last 18 months, Centner said for the entire fleet the county has spent $196,000 on maintenance and $150,000 of that was for the patrol division.

“We’re reaching a point where we’re expecting that over the next year or so, we’re going to lose two or more cars,” the captain said. “We’ll lose motors or transmissions. It doesn’t make sense to keep pouring money into them.

“In some of the 2010 Dodge Chargers in the last 18 months, we’ve put upwards of $12,000 or $13,000 in each vehicle. That’s half of (what it would cost to buy) a new vehicle. Our fleet is starting to dwindle. We’ve already ‘deadlined’ two cars this year that had well over 200,000 miles. They both lost motors. It was an $8,000 bill per car. It just doesn’t make sense to spend that kind of money that is that old and has that many miles.”

County Administrator Scott Miller said at one point, the sheriff’s office was supposed to get about 10 new cars a year. That was before the recession hit and the county’s budget is just starting to recover.

“We’re to a point now where we’re going to have to buy vehicles for them, in excess of the two or three a year,” he said at the meeting, citing another reason for the need for a 0.25 percent county sales tax increase.

Commissioners have not decided whether to place a sales tax issue on the fall ballot. The deadline to file with the Medina County Board of Elections is Aug. 9.

Centner said the patrol fleet (20 vehicles) has a total of 2.66 million miles. There are also vehicles for the administration, civil division, detective bureau and transport, but they aren’t in as dire need at patrol, he said.

On average, Centner said, each officer puts about 30,000 miles on a car. So, that’s about 60,000 miles a year if there are two officers assigned to that vehicle. That means the vehicle’s life cycle is about two years.

Centner said years ago, cars that reached 100,000 miles were about to be retired. He said the reasonable breaking point now is about 150,000.

“I think 250,000 miles has gone past a reasonable point,” he said.

Nine of the patrol cars — almost half the fleet — have at least 150,000 miles on them.

He said the base price to purchase a new vehicle is about $25,000. Once striping, the cage and light bar are added, the price jumps to $35,000.

Centner said to replace a motor could cost as much as $7,000 or $8,000. He said sometimes the decision is made to “deadline” the vehicle instead of repairing it.

“We want to be fiscally responsible with the monies we have,” he said. “We’re starting to get beat up on maintenance costs.

“When we are asking for cars, we know where we’re at and can forecast ahead. The problem with the patrol division, we’re losing cars and we’re not replacing them as quickly as we need to keep the fleet up and running.

“We certainly need to be aware of how much we’re spending on maintenance just to keep a fleet going vs. putting that money toward newer vehicles.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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