City Playing Catch Up on Capital Purchases

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It took a few years, but the police and fire departments now have new vehicles.

City Departments are starting to get caught up after years of putting some capital purchases on hold during the recent recession. The Police Department this year rolled out 67 new vehicles, replacing the aging line of Crown Victorias with Ford Interceptors and Chevrolet Caprices last month. The new vehicles join the fleet of about 900 cars, SUVs and trucks.

The same story is found at the Raleigh Fire Department, where the capital purchase catch-up included four new vehicles: one standard fire engine, one aerial ladder platform, and two rescue fire engines.

“Sure enough, during the recession, within our police department and fire department, deferral of equipment was one of the choices that was made on how we could balance the budget through the recession as well as other capital investments that were deferred,” said Joyce Munro, Raleigh’s budget and management services director.

On the police side, Munro said the department delayed buying 69 vehicles in Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2011.

“What we saw beginning in [Fiscal Year] ‘12 and ‘13 and ‘14 is that we’ve begun catching up on that delay replacement,” Munro said.

According to data from the city’s Fleet Management Services, the city purchased between 187 and 270 vehicles per year from 2004 to 2009. In 2010, that dropped to 147, which dropped again in 2011 to 104 vehicles purchased. The drop continued in 2012, when the city bought just 69 vehicles.

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Getting the fire trucks took about two years with “planning for it on the fire department side and trying to get the money from the city,” said Garry Spain, assistant chief of services.

Adding the trucks means bringing the fire department in line with standards for reserve vehicles. Instead of only one reserve ladder truck, the department now has three. That gives crews breathing room as they rotate trucks in for repair and maintenance.

“Trucks get used a lot and they break down,” Spain said. “It’s very exciting,” he said. “We’re finally able to do what we planned for.

The budget for next fiscal year, starting July 1, has yet to be fully discussed and adopted. But during an initial presentation May 20, city officials said departments are looking to add back positions that were either lost or never filled because of the recession. Some departments may even add positions.

Munro said things feel more normal than they have the past few years.

“I feel as if we’re getting to a point where we are fairly well aligned with ‘back to business’ with routine and regular replacement,” she said.

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