An outside company will handle buying and maintaining vehicles for the City of Arkansas City under agreements approved this week by the city commissioners.

The board on Tuesday approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into an agreement with Enterprise FM Trust, of Delaware, for the lease, use, maintenance, selection and inspection of city-owned vehicles.

Commissioners also approved an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management, Inc., of Missouri, for vehicle repairs and service.

Having someone else manage vehicles’ replacement and service issues is expected to save the city money and free up time for city employees.

Commissioner Kanyon Gingher said Wednesday that the city will now lease instead of purchase vehicles. Maintenance and repair of those vehicles is also included in that lease.

“It’s quite staggering when you add in the cost of the vehicles and the maintenance of the vehicles,” she said. “That’s all done now.”

Gingher said that some of the city-owned vehicles are old and subject to frequent breakdowns. Under the agreement with Enterprise, city officials will not have to spend time looking for replacements, and the city fleet will stay current and up to date.

“The company will go out and research to find us the best vehicles as we replace the fleet,” she said.

City Manager Randy Frazer said that Enterprise is able to purchase vehicles at a lower price than the city can. The company will manage the city’s fleet, determine when a vehicle needs to be replaced, find the best possible option and handle the sale of the vehicles being replaced.

Local dealerships will be considered for those purchases and utilized for any maintenance or repair needs, he said.

City spokesperson Andrew Lawson said the contract has no set expiration date. He said the exact cost to the city would be almost impossible to calculate right now because it depends on which vehicles are being replaced. Monthly leasing fees would be determined by the cost of the replacements.

Any profit from a vehicle sale would be placed into an account toward purchase of the next vehicle, Lawson said. That could reduce the amount the city would pay to lease that vehicle.

In its pitch to commissioners, Enterprise predicts the city would save an estimated $1.15 million over 10 years with benefits such as shortening the current vehicle lifecycle from 15 to three years and reducing maintenance and fuel costs. The average vehicle in the city’s light- to medium-sized fleet of vehicles is nine years old.

“Arkansas City will be able to  replace 48 of its oldest vehicles within the first five years, turning 100 percent of their vehicles into newer, safer, more efficient models,” according to a written proposal from Enterprise.

The company added that the team handling the Ark City account would be in Wichita and would meet with city staff at least four times a year to discuss strategy, budget and “operational excellence.”

Commissioner Duane Oestmann said the agreement does not cover large vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances.

“It starts out this year with replacing 16 of the oldest vehicles that the city has on its fleet,” he said.

Oestmann said the city has spent $125,000 on vehicle repairs and $133,000 to buy new vehicles since January 2019.

Under the agreement, city vehicles will be on a three- to four-year replacement rotation.

“When they take those cars and sell them, then we get another new vehicle on that lease,” Oestmann said.

Along with keeping the city supplied with new, dependable and fuel-efficient vehicles, Oestmann said the arrangement will free up city employees for other tasks. Each department has several employees who spend time on vehicle maintenance such as oil changes and other repairs. He said it will also make things easier for the police department.

“Our (interim) police chief Capt. Burr said it will also free up time for them,” he said. “Instead of looking on websites when they need vehicles, they can just contact Enterprise for those needs.”

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