Leasing Cruisers To Save Money

Martins Ferry City Council may be on to something big. Officials in other area municipalities ought to be very interested.

For several weeks, Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland has been asking council members when they planned to do something about his department’s cruisers. Some would be unsafe in a high-speed pursuit, he explained.

On Wednesday, council acted decisively on the problem. An agreement with a rental car company was approved, whereby Martins Ferry will lease police cruisers through a fleet program.

It is expected the initiative will save the city $185,000 over five years.

Yes, $185,000. That is a lot of money, particularly in the context of a city budget that totals $10 million for the entire year.

Details of the program need to be finalized, it was noted during the Wednesday meeting. It may include water and street department vehicles as well as police cruisers.

The devil is in the details, of course. But city officials already have checked off some of them, including the fact the leased cruisers will be delivered equipped and ready for use.

Traditionally, local governments have purchased vehicles and heavy equipment outright, then used them until they are worth little more than salvage value.

So why is the lease approach just now being utilized? Good question.

It may not work out. Only experience will tell. But if it does, it is a technique other municipalities and county governments should be considering. Their officials ought to be monitoring the Martins Ferry experiment closely.