Sheriff’s Department says leasing new vehicles can create major savings for Lowndes County

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Tuesday, the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors authorized a request for bids from companies for a new lease purchase agreement for vehicles for the sheriff’s department.

During 2020 and 2021, repair bills have grown more expensive as the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department works to maintain its fleet of vehicles.

“It’s hard to get new vehicles right now because of the shortage of parts and the manufacturers delaying the delivery of vehicles, which puts us in a bind,” says Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins. “And we have to maintain these older vehicles, which costs the county more money.”

With COVID-19 continuing to disrupt the supply chain, Sheriff Hawkins proposed the switch to a lease purchase agreement to upgrade a third of the fleet. It’s a move he believes will create major savings for Lowndes County.

Instead of buying seven new vehicles each year, the county could lease 27 for the same amount of money (roughly $230,000 in 2021) budgeted by the county.

“Getting a third of our fleet replaced with newer vehicles will reduce the cost of maintenance, be more efficient on fuel and save the county more money in the long run,” the sheriff says.

Board of Supervisors President Trip Hairston says that as the bids come in from various companies, they will be comparing the types of leasing programs they offer to see which is the best fit for the county.

“What maintenance is theirs and what maintenance is ours? What the warranty is on these vehicles?” Hairston said, offering examples.

Sheriff Hawkins says they are looking for a company with the buying power to acquire cars quickly. He adds that the leased vehicles will come almost fully equipped, which will be another source of savings.

“It’ll have the lights, the sirens, the cages, the striping for the vehicles, all that’ll be already included into the lease purchase package,” he says.

Hairston says that while the sheriff’s department has its share of needs, it also has a history of saving money and generating funds for the county.

“This is not the first county or municipality that has done this throughout the state and those that the sheriff’s department has talked to have been very pleased with the outcomes,” he says. “So we would expect the same.”

Pontotoc, Pearl and Natchez are among the cities that have had success switching to a lease purchasing program. The sheriff says the goal is to have their final list of bids by early 2022.

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