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11:54 AM Sun, Feb. 17th

Mohave County spending $800K on new cars

KINGMAN – Mohave County will spend nearly $800,000 this year for 21 new automobiles.

The vehicles will replace older models that are nearing their mileage limitations established by the board of supervisors. County officials expect delivery of the vehicles in June from five Phoenix-based dealerships. Last year the county spent $1.8 million on 45 new vehicles.

The county has more than 210 vehicles assigned to various departments which budget annually to repay the cost of the vehicle replacement program, said Steve Latoski, county public works director.

“Through this program, which is sustainable, we can keep a modern and efficient fleet,” Latoski added.

The county departments also budget for vehicle maintenance and fuel costs, he said.

“This is a very strategic program because it allows us to obtain the vehicles at very competitive prices when we buy in bulk,” Latoski said.

Although the older cars are auctioned off at the end of their manufacture warranties, the county buys extended warranties.

Critics have asked county officials why they don’t purchase refurbished vehicles instead of new.

“I can’t imagine refurbished vehicles come with five-year, 100,000 mile power train warranties when you are working with a rebuilt engine,” Latoski said. “But, there are other issues. The body suffers wear and tear, and the electronics tend to fall behind the safety features of the vehicles.”

Prior to the vehicle replacement plan enacted more than 15 years ago, county automobiles had on average 170,000 miles and were still in service.

“At this time they were very unreliable and we had too many to maintain,” said Michael Hendrix, county manager. “Because they were unreliable the departments came up with goals to modernize our fleet.”

Instead of spending money on continual maintenance, Hendrix added, the decision was made to purchase new and let the warranties cover the repairs.