TREASURE ISLAND – After a lengthy workshop discussion, Treasure Island Commissioners moved forward Oct. 15 on a proposal to purchase a new police vehicle.
Police Lt. Armand Boudreau explained the unmarked 2014 Ford Interceptor K8A utility vehicle would be used to replace an aging 2005 Ford Explorer with 116,500 miles on the odometer and 3,250 hours of recorded idle time. Boudreau explained at an average of 33 miles per one hour of idle time, the vehicle has the equivalent of 223,750 miles.
He said the price of the new vehicle would be $25,516 and the older vehicle would be auctioned for an estimated $2,000 to $3,000.
The new vehicle would be assigned to Detective Trent Taylor who is currently driving a 2003 model car. Taylor is on the Pinellas County traffic homicide investigation team, which requires him to carry additional equipment in his car.
Funding for the new vehicle would come from budgeted LOISS funds. TIPD has also applied for a $15,000 grant to pay for the transition of electronic equipment from the older car to the new vehicle.
“Because (Taylor) is on the (traffic homicide investigation) team, he has to carry certain kinds of equipment, which we already have,” Boudreau said. “So we’re hopeful that the grant comes through. If it doesn’t, we have a contingency in place. We’ve earmarked funds from our forfeiture account to pay for that so we don’t dip into police department budget.”
Boudreau said part of the grant would be used to upgrade some the department’s current car terminals.
Commissioner Phil Collins initially said he wasn’t sure about the expense.
“To be honest with you, I’m just reluctant replacing a car with 116,000 miles on it,” Collins said. “I know it has 3,250 idle hours on it and I know that’s important. But I’m just reluctant to replace a police car with that mileage.”
Mayor Bob Minning asked what the maintenance history of the 2005 car was.
“It has had its challenges,” said Boudreau. “It’s had chronic pollution control issues. I constantly get the check engine light on and we get it reset because we don’t spend the money to fix it. It’s had battery issues and it’s had transmission issues.”
Commissioner Tim Ramsberger said he wasn’t in favor of moving forward on the proposal.
“In all due respect, I think considering our millage rate increase, I think we have to demonstrate as a commission our ability to make cuts,” said Ramsberger. “I’m sure there’s a sense of urgency about the replacement right now. Are you saying (the current car) can’t last another six months?”
“I can’t say that with certainty,” said Boudreau. “We had one new car in a six-year span. From 2007 to 2013, we bought a 2010 and we ended up with a bunch of old cars and high-mileage cars. We didn’t have the turnover factor and this is some of the after effect of that.”
“ I don’t think it’s necessary at this time,” said Ramsberger. “I think we have to save money. So I’m not in favor of moving forward on this at this time.”
Collins then changed his stance.
“I do agree with Mr. Ramsberger,” said Collins, “But on the other side of the coin, Lt. Boudreau did make a point that this car has a bad transmission and cannot be used for the additional equipment it needs to be used for. It’s going to take $2,500 or $3,000 to put a transmission in this vehicle and do some other things to do it. I don’t know that that would be the smart move at this time.”
Commissioner Alan Bildz agreed.
“I agree with the philosophy (of saving money) but it should be noted that this LOISS money and none of the millage funds are going for this purchase,” Bildz said.
Commissioner Carol Coward questioned the use of LOISS funds for the purchase of the vehicle when LOISS funds should be used to repair the many potholes in Paradise Boulevard.
The issue is expected to be discussed again and voted upon at the Nov. 5 City Commission meeting.
In other action, commissioners moved forward on an ordinance that amends the purpose and intent of the city’s statute that governs waterways and driving on the beach. The change better defines the term “beach,” as the “zone of unconsolidated material that extends from the mean low water line to the place where there is a marked change in material or physiographic form, or to the line of permanent vegetation, and which is property within the city limits, or over which the city has or shall have jurisdiction, that has been dedicated for beach or park purposes.” It also updates the driving on the beach, allowing participants and support staff for set-up and break down of special events “pursuant to a license granted by the city.”
City Attorney Maura Kiefer said three hotel owners on the beach are still pursuing a claim against the city to halt vehicle parking on the beach and is seeking intervention by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“They’re asking us to do something within 30 days,” Kiefer said. “So I’m asking permission to retain additional counsel. My own expert.”