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After waiting almost until the end of 2016 to replace patrol cars for last year, the Spring Hill police department is preparing for 2017 already.

The Board of Mayor and Alderman will vote on a proposal in two weeks to buy 10 2017 Chevrolet Caprices by the end of February from a private dealer, the same private dealer it bought 7 cars from in December.

A problem arose last year when GM announced it would stop producing the Caprice, the standard model the used by the Spring Hill Police. The problem was solved with a sort of stopgap in December.

At the time the Board of Mayor and Alderman voted to purchase 7 police vehicles, which was the end of a process that was more complicated than you might think.

The money to purchase the vehicles was budgeted last Spring, and the police department had been stretching their current vehicles as far as they could, after unexpected shortages delayed the purchase.

GM also announced that it would no longer produce a patrol sedan model, for the time being at least, leaving the Tahoe SUV as the only current GM model that will still be sold for patrol. Don Brite, the police chief, told the board that he found a factory in Australia that could fill the order for 7 Caprices, but that delivery could take up to a year, at least six months, at a state-contract cost of $201,344.92. In response, the city decided to go off of the state contract, which is the normal way to buy police vehicles. So after putting out a bid, there were three responses. All three were cheaper than the state contract Caprice option.

Dodge of Columbia offered seven 2016 Chargers for a total price of $163,765.00– the price (on all the bids) includes a custom police paint job.

Golden Circle Ford offered seven 2017 Interceptor sedans for $163,464.00.

And Lyon’s offered two 2014 and five 2016 Caprices for $188,023.55. The 2014 models cost $24,500 each; the 2016 cost $25,500 each.

The city chose Lyon’s.

Additionally, there is a little more than another $110,000 cost to outfit the vehicles for police use.

Because of the city’s partnership with GM, however, it did not choose the lowest bid, but was able to stick with the Caprice and remain within its just-under $300,000 budgeted amount for the purchase.

The thought is that the city will make up the difference in the long run by being all GM.

“I support GM, I am a GM guy,” Brandon McColloch, Ward 4, said. “And we have 98 percent of [city owned vehicles] are GM. But if it was Dodge or Chrysler, I would say the same thing. This board has just opened up a mechanical repair shop for the city that I think will pay dividends down the road. If we had a fleet of 98 percent Dodge or Chrysler, I would say stick with what you have. Otherwise you would have to get a different set of belts, different filters, you have got to have a bigger parts room, different tools, and start training people in [something other than GM] … I support the Lyons bid.”

Now the city is considering re-upping the bid from Lyon’s, buying another 10 cars for $274,940.00 to be funded from the 2017-2018 police budget as recommended by the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee on February 6th, 2017.

“I was notified by Lyons Chevrolet that after the 2017 model, GM will no longer manufacture the Chevrolet Caprice,” Chief Don Brite said. “During the retreat, BOMA agreed to preorder 10 Caprices before the cutoff date of Feb. 23rd, and will purchase them from 2017-2018 budget after July 1, 2018. A RFP was advertised for 10 Caprices, is the recommendation based off the bid.”

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