Missoula City Council approves $618,000 for vehicle purchases

The City of Missoula is getting a batch of new vehicles. A number of those were approved at Monday's City Council meeting.

On the purchasing block are four vehicles for the water department ($117,465.36), a 1500 Ram truck ($26,094.00), two rigs for Public Works ($42,558.00), a roller for the streets department ($148,476.00), eight new Chargers ($254,656) and a 1500 Dodge truck ($29,161) for the police fleet. That's a total of $618,000 worth of equipment approved.

All city vehicles, including police cars, are brought to the city's maintenance shop for routine maintenance and major repairs.

Monday afternoon, a totaled police car sat in the middle of the garage.

"It was running code, and it was going through a light and a county detention vehicle ran through, into the side of it and totaled it," said Scot Colwell, the fleet manager for the city of Missoula.

Not all vehicles in the police fleet get that kind of damage, but they put on a lot of wear and tear.

"We have 106 officers, so these vehicles run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The lowest amount of miles that I have on any pursuit vehicle in a year is 26,000 miles in a year," said Colwell.

However, because the cars idle for extended periods of time, Colwell says the rule of thumb is to add 30 extra miles per hour of idle time. He says that puts them at about 200,000 miles within three years.

That's why they're replacing eight of them with Dodge Chargers from a dealer in Livingston. Each will cost $31,832. The vehicles the city buys for the police department are off the state bid, which is open to every vendor throughout the state of Montana. The city then selects the lowest bid.

The vehicles that are being replaced will be sold at auction, with the exception of the totaled one. For that, they'll take out the parts they can reuse and sell the metal.

It's all an effort to allow law enforcement officers to respond safely and quickly.

"We have 34 vehicles in the police fleet that are actually pursuit-rated vehicles. These are emergency services vehicles, so they have to be able to respond at any given moment, at any given time," said Colwell.

Not all city vehicles need that level of care. When other vehicles are replaced they use newer vehicles for positions that are on-call and then drop the older vehicles into lesser roles like the Parks Department.

Colwell said the city will also be purchasing an electric scooter for the parking commission, a plow truck for the streets department, a vacuum truck for wastewater treatment, a fork lift and a distributer truck for the streets department.

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