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Bunnell Police Will Borrow $70,000 From Its Utility to Buy 2 Cop Cars as Department Grows

| November 15, 2016

bunnell police department

The Bunnell Police Department wants to grow up. (© FlaglerLive)

Bunnell police officers are tired of driving around what their chief calls jalopies that keep breaking down. They want something new in which to look more professional, though money is tight.

Monday evening, with little discussion, the Bunnell City Commission unanimously approved an unusual way of going about buying patrol cars. The city will borrow $70,400 from its own water and sewer fund, buy two patrol cars from a Polk County dealer by piggy-backing on a Charlotte County government contract, and repay the fund over five years from the general fund, at 1.5 percent interest.

The new cars—the 2017 Ford Interceptor Utility—will be big SUVs compared to the Dodge Chargers Bunnell cops are driving now—the sort of cars reserved for supervisors in the Flagler County Sheriff’s fleet.

“You know what? It’s time to put Bunnell on the map,” Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster told the city commission. “We want to have some good vehicles, to be a professional agency, which we’re heading in that direction. We also have to have the equipment, and we have to look like a professional agency too, not driving around in these Jalopies that are breaking down.”

The city has four 2008 Dodge Chargers, averaging some 120,000 miles each. The cars have totaled $97,000 in repair costs in the past five years, according to Foster in a memo to the city’s finance director. The department is also trying to rebuild its ranks after having to shed a third of its budget three years ago, when the city was in deficit and having to balance its books. This year the city added a police officer back, but that took money from the budget that could have otherwise been spent on cars.

So Stella Gurnee, the city’s finance director started looking at options.

“The police department planned on trying to lease two vehicles rather than purchasing them to save money in the police department budget so they could get another police officer position that they needed,” Gurnee said. “But the rate was rather high, I felt, 5.25 percent, and so we looked at an external financing option, and the bank quoted us 3.39 percent.”

That, too, was high. “So instead of doing those two options,” she said, she thought of allowing the water-sewer fund “to loan money to the general fund for the purchase of these vehicles, and then repay it at a 1.5 percent rate, back to the water-sewer fund over five years. It made a good savings for the general fund over that time period, and made a much better interest rate for the water-sewer fund.” That fund is only getting 0.35 percent in interest earnings. “So it just seemed to make sense to loan money to ourselves. There is sufficient unrestricted reserves in the water sewer fund,” Gurnee said.

The finance director said the water-sewer fund has reserves of more than 16 percent. The loan, she said, will not drop the reserves of the water-sewer fund below 16 percent.

Called it “absurd” that the city had spent nearly $100,000 on repair bills for its older vehicles, though it’s unclear why the city hasn’t joined the county’s and sheriff’s joint fleet-maintenance program to that end.

“I’m probably driving the crappiest car, but I’m doing that because I want my guys to have the best,” Foster said. “We’re in desperate need of two additional vehicles. That’ll allow us to take the old 2008s out.”

The vehicles are 6-cylinder, two-door, all-wheel drive with five-year premium-care warranties, bought from Bartow Ford in Bartow, Polk County.

The details of the deal are below.

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8 Responses for “Bunnell Police Will Borrow $70,000 From Its Utility to Buy 2 Cop Cars as Department Grows”

  1. Anon says:

    Those explorers are really small basically a Taurus with extra room in the back … so they are nowhere near the size of the county supervisor tahoes. I’m sure those cars that the county has are killing their backs and knees with all they have to wear but they don’t make them cars like they used to…

  2. The Ghost of America says:

    A child in a police car, what a surprisingly accurate picture.

  3. concernedcitizen says:

    Wonder if our water rates will now go up again in Bunnell?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yep you can bet the rates will go up! They look for any excuse already higher than palm coast and you can drink their water. Of course they don’t let the prisoners take a bath in theirs! As for the chief having the worse car, he spends all his time in the office, what’s he need a good ride for anyhow?

  5. T says:

    C’mon guys! Do not rob your utility fund again! That is how the City utility got in trouble several years ago and the old water plant went to hell. You have a new water plant and you need to maintain it and you still need to make repairs to the aging water distribution system which is failing. Good Ole Bunnell… Let’s make Flint, Mi look great!

  6. Anonymous says:

    They ought to have plenty of money for the new cars as many tickets as they write !

  7. Dave says:

    This shows you where the Bunnell police dept minds are at, they are more worried about “appearing” professional amongst thier colleagues instead of things that matter. The way I was raised,if you can’t afford you don’t need it, and def don’t borrow from Paul to pay Peter.

  8. Sam says:

    Abolish the Bunnell PD and hand over responsibility to the sheriff, this will save on a lot of overhead. These small towns with their own government is a waste of money and resources.

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