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Crow Wing County Board: Board approves early ordering of sheriff's office SUVs

Crow Wing County Commissioner Paul Koering laughs during the board's discussion to buy six 2019 Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles before manufacturing plant disruptions and new model introduction make obsolete county-owned SUV accessories or drive up the purchase cost. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
Some new squad cars will be patrolling Crow Wing County roads, but the earliest the sheriff’s office will put them into use won’t be until next year. Brainerd Dispatch file photo2 / 2

Some new squad cars will be patrolling Crow Wing County roads, but the earliest the sheriff's office will put them into use won't be until next year.

At its Tuesday, Sept. 11, meeting, the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners approved ordering six 2019 Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles for a total of $187,575 before Sept. 21.

Ford is America's best-selling police brand, according to the automotive maker. The company introduced in June the Police Interceptor Utility, the industry's first pursuit-rated hybrid SUV.

Ford Motor Co. will retool its manufacturing plants starting next year, however, which will shut down operations for about eight weeks, "causing a disruption in the ordering and delivery process of the 2019 and 2020 models," according to county officials.

Ranger Chevrolet Buick GMC in Hibbing is the county's vehicle vendor. The automotive dealership recommended any 2019 orders be placed by Sept. 21, which will guarantee delivery in 2019 with no price increases or model changes.

"The early purchase of the squad cars sounds like it's a great idea, but do we have the money this year to do it since it's a next year's item?" Commissioner Rosemary Franzen asked.

County Administrator Tim Houle replied, "Good question. The early purchase is to order the squad cars. We will not receive them—nor will we pay for them—until 2019."

Sales of the Ford SUV rose 5 percent this year, "building on five straight years of sales growth and capturing 65 percent of the total U.S. police vehicle market," according to Ford Motor Co.

The county planned to replace six Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles next year, but if the replacement order is placed in 2019, they will be 2020 models with a hybrid option and increased pricing, with expected delivery dates at the end of 2019 at the earliest.

The county experienced delays this year with another vehicle order because of an eight-week plant retooling that held up the ordering and delivery process.

"Three items that were ordered in February 2018 still have not been received as of this date. Typical delivery is usually three to four months from order date," according to the request for board action.

The $187,575 expenditure for the six Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles is included in the county's 2019 capital improvement plan, which has not been approved by the board.

"But every year, we try to turn over a portion of the fleet," Houle explained to the board. "We have done this before, and so the reason that this is being requested is because we've been notified of a price change. If it were not for the price change, we would be waiting until January."

According to the Ford Motor. Co.: "Anticipated fuel economy gains, combined with expected fuel savings from reduced engine idling time, are expected to help save law-enforcement customers an estimated $3,200 per vehicle in yearly fuel bills versus the current Police Interceptor Utility."

"If the (vehicle) body style changes, then the accoutrements—the sirens, the lights and everything that goes on the vehicle—then we can't reuse what we have," Houle said of the benefits of ordering an SUV similar to ones in use by the county, rather than ordering next year.

"But if the body style remains unchanged, then we take the accoutrements off of the old squad car and put them on the new squad car, so I believe it was not only a price change but a change in the body style as well."

Commissioner Paul Koering made the motion to approve the consent agenda item to buy the SUVs early, which Franzen supported. Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom was absent from Tuesday's meeting. The consent agenda items were then unanimously approved.

The brief board meeting started with some reflection by the commissioners because of the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on American soil.

"I'm not sure that we've ever had a Sept. 11 meeting in the intervening years ... and I think we should note that sad day in our history of our nation and rise for a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance," Chairman Paul Thiede, an Air Force veteran, said at the meeting's start.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the hiring of ​Nicole Degidio, community services probation agent; Dayle Shimek, community services financial worker; Tim Leskey, community services social worker; and Kirstin Lindbery, land services customer service specialist.

Approved the departures of Brittney Brezinka, administrative services finance intern; Christan Veith, sheriff's office correctional officer; and Jonathan Stainbrook, sheriff's office senior technical/administrative specialist.

Approved an easement to Mustang Sally Investments LLC, owner of a group home at 14660 Riverside Drive, over tax-forfeited land in Brainerd, so buses can turn around safely.

Approved the temporary on-sale liquor license applications of the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association for the temporary on-sale of liquor at the curling club on the dates of Dec. 2 and Jan. 27.

Approved a two-year permit to the city of Crosslake to establish and maintain a non-motorized trail as part of the Crosslake Nordic Ridge project plan.

Approved the eighth addendum to a trail permit between Paul Bunyan Arboretum Inc., doing business as the Northland Arboretum, and the county for the Brainerd Nordic Ski Club, which extended the term for an additional three years to Sept. 30, 2021.

Accepted a donation in the amount of $250 donation from Brainerd Community Action to the county dive team.

Approve final payment to Knife River Corp. for the total contract of $235,355.71 for dust control work.