New vehicle fleet arrives as city looks toward future projects

Published 5:26 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby freely admits that it seems like it would be counterintuitive to think that the city would be able to replace its entire fleet of utilities vehicles, while actually saving money. That is exactly what will happen under the new fleet management program the city has entered into with Enterprise though.

“The Enterprise projection is that we’ll save about $135,000 over ten years by going to this fleet management program,” Hobby said. “We really think that is a conservative estimate because of how high our maintenance costs were getting as this fleet aged.”

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The City recently received 16 brand new 2017 vehicles from Enterprise that replaced 20 vehicles the city was using that had an average age of 24 years.

“We replaced 20 vehicles with 16 new vehicles so we actually reduced the size of out fleet by going to some crew cabs and things like that so we can get more people on the job site, but with fewer vehicles,” Hobby said.

Under the lease program, the City’s entire fleet will roll over every five years and all maintenance costs including oil changes and new tires are built into the lease cost.

“You have to follow the program once you’re in it, but as long as you stick to the program it works,” Hobby said. “It is hard to find a negative with this. We are excited about it. Our employees are excited about it. There is a reason the council voted unanimously to do it; it made too much sense not to.”

The program will save the city considerable money in fuel and maintenance costs as they were spending around $2,000 a year, per vehicle to keep them on the road. Having new vehicles will also enable the mechanics’ shop to focus more on maintenance heavy vehicles such as garbage trucks and road graders.

“A lot of that was getting pushed back because we were spending so much time on the maintenance of these of vehicles,” Hobby said. “Now we will have more time to maintain the equipment that is essential to us doing the job we need to.”

The city has also recently created a new crew of workers whose sole job is to keep clean the non-state highway right-a-ways within the city and Hobby said that he has received multiple phone calls from residents that have noticed the crew’s efforts.

“It is being run through the parks department,” Hobby said. “We are maintaining those non-state right-a-ways like we would a park. That seems to have had a really positive effect.”

Plans are also progressing to finish the nature trail at the Boat Basin, although work has been delayed as the city waits for approvals on placement of the pedestrian bridge that will go over the boat canal.

“Then people will start noticing, when we get that in place, that where the train and the animals were we will start getting that opened back up and getting the fencing down,” Hobby said. “Then people can begin to enjoy that all the way down to the river.”

The area has been partially cleared with the removal of the old equipment that sat near the train and the relocation of the animals.

“We have moved all the emus from down there,” Hobby said. “That area is completely animal free now. Now, we just have to get the fence down and get the bridge in place and let people start enjoying that area.”

Plans are also still in the works to add a second rentable smokehouse to the Boat Basin and to develop a mountain bike trail. The council also continues to work towards replacing the playground at the Boat Basin either late in this fiscal year or early next year.

“That is going to be a pretty expensive project,” Hobby said of the playground. “It will be over $100,000 for new playground equipment there, but definitely moving in that direction.”

The City Council will work to finalize the plans for the playground and other items such as a possible splash pad at its annual retreat in April.

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