The City Council is considering starting a program to provide police patrol officers with take home cars, but there appears to be confusion about the cost.
The City Council discussed the program at the May 25 work session where they were provided with details on what the program would cost.
However, those figures are easily misinterpreted because they combine the costs to both the Greensboro Police Department and the Equipment Services Fund.
Greensboro Police cars are actually owned by the Equipment Services Department and leased to the Police Department. The lease payment is designed to cover both the replacement cost and maintenance of the vehicle. However, the payment from the Police Department to the Equipment Services Department is simply a transfer of money from one department to another and not an actual cost to the city.
The chart provided to the City Council is not, as some assumed, the actual cost to the city. In fact, the title of the chart is “Current Cash Flow Estimate to Purchase and Maintain 20 New Police Vehicles Per Year for 5 Years.”
“Cash Flow” is not the synonymous with cost to the city.
For instance, the cash flow chart includes the $850,000 cost of buying the vehicles, plus the $310,300 cost of equipping the vehicles as police cars for a total cost to the city for 20 police cars of $1,160,300.
But the cash flow chart also includes the annual lease payment from the Police Department to the equipment services department of $198,480, which is an internal payment from one city department to another and not an actual cost to the city.
The cash flow chart includes $64,610 to hire an additional technician to maintain the vehicles. There is no way a full-time technician can be kept busy maintaining 20 brand new vehicles.
Plus, the cost of maintaining the vehicles is covered in the lease payment from the Police Department to the equipment services department.
It appears the cost to the city for 20 new police vehicles in the first year would be $1,160,300 and not the “total estimated cost” on the cash flow chart of $1,423,390.
And in year five of the program, the total cost to the city would be $1,444,374 and not the $2,683,189 listed on the cash flow chart, which includes the annual lease payment of $219,280 for each of the five years.
The City Council discussed the take home car program as if the cash flow chart indicated the cost to the city and not the accounting method in which that cost would be covered.
The actual cost to the city would be far less than the cash flow chart seems to indicate.