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Cruiser replacement gets in traffic jam of comments at council meeting

September 11, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Two agenda items at the Sept. 4 Canfield City Council meeting involved the replacement of two police cruisers. This year the department wants to begin the move from the Dodge Charger to the Chevrolet Tahoe.

"The Chargers have been a maintenance problem," said Police Chief Chuck Colucci. "Our cruisers have broken down and sat for up to 45 days while awaiting parts."

He told council the Chargers start having high maintenance bills after reaching 80,000 miles. The Chevy Tahoe's maintenance problems begin after 130,000 and that extra 50,000 is like having two more years of service from a vehicle.

Colucci said his department presently has a fleet of 15 vehicles, of which nine are cruisers. There is one 2014 Dodge Challenger used for the school resource officer, one 2014 Dodge Durango used for the canine unit, and seven Chargers ranging from 2014 to 2018.

Councilman Chuck Tieche said he was concerned over the cost of the Tahoe compared to the Charger. The difference was close to $10,000, but Colucci said the department can get two from Sweeney Chevrolet for around $39,000, which is under the state purchasing price of $41,000.

On the plus side, the Tahoe according to Colucci, would last almost two years longer without huge maintenance bills and when trade-in time came, would be worth a lot more when it came to disposal.

Colucci mentioned one more plus for the Tahoe, and that was in space and ease of getting in and out fast. He said in the Chargers, officers have to pull themselves up to get out. With the Tahoe, an officers can just slide out easily.

As for space, Colucci said they can carry equipment they have had to leave out of the limited-space Chargers.

"We don't have space in the Chargers," he told council. "With all the equipment we have to carry we are leaving out the spare tire and no longer carry fire extinguishers. We had a porch fire on Neff Drive last month and were first there. Had we had our fire extinguishers, we could have put the fire out."

He said the Tahoe will permit the department to put the spare and other equipment back in.

Council unanimously approved the first ordinance to declare the 2014 Charger with 138,000 miles and the 2015 Charger with 106,000 miles as surplus. He said another local police agency was looking for used cruisers and both would be sold for continued use as such.

A second ordinance to purchase two new Tahoes met with some resistance.

"I am concerned over the cost of the Tahoe," Tieche said. "We have a police levy renewing in a couple years."

Colucci said he promised residents he would not ask for another levy unless it was really needed. He said while the Tahoe may cost more on the day of purchase, but the long range maintenance costs make it the better buy.

The vote for the purchase passed 4-1 with Tieche casting the no vote.

Resident Frank Micchia asked if the money earned from the sale of the two used cruisers could help offset the price of the new ones. City Finance Director Christine Stack-Clayton said the law does not allow the proceeds of the sale of the used vehicles to go back into the police fund. She said only real estate tax money can go into that fund. The proceeds from the sale would have to be placed in the general fund.

Colucci did mention the under-cover vehicles are doing well under a new program. The department is leasing four vehicles at a cost of $28,000 per year for all four. They get to rotate the vehicles regularly and keep the undercover vehicles fresh without having to purchase new ones.

On a different matter, several residents praised the efforts of the police in keeping the speed problem under control during the fair and at the start of the first week of school.

"As a result of a Town Crier article, things have gone really well," Colucci said. "School has started and we are keeping our streets safe."

In other business:

Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Ohio Municipal League's (OML) position of H.B. 49 and H.B. 5 regarding central tax collection and asking the OML to include the City of Canfield as a municipality supporting the OML Amicus Brief before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Council approved a motion to allow American Legion Post 177 to install a flag pole on the north end of the Village Green. The pole would be 60 feet tall, would hold a 12 foot by 18 foot flag, and would be lighted.



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