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Toledo City Council dismayed by vehicle upkeep costs

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    The Hicks-Hudson administration’s request to Toledo City Council for permission to buy several vehicles quickly led to calls for a review of how much the city spends fixing vehicles. City Vehicles 5634, 5722, 5307, and 1618 are in question.

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    City Vehicle 5634

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    City Vehicle 5307.

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    City Vehicle 5722.

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The Hicks-Hudson administration’s request to Toledo City Council for permission to buy several new vehicles quickly led to calls for a review of how much the city spends fixing the old ones.

Councilmen were aghast this week to learn the city typically spends thousands of dollars a year to fix each of its vehicles that have less miles than some of their own personal vehicles.

Among the city-owned vehicles the city wants to replace are a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with 170,923 miles. The city spent $26,038 repairing the Jeep since 2001. Another Jeep, a 2002 Toledo-made Liberty with 90,482 miles, has cost taxpayers $18,995 for repairs.

A 2002 Jeep Liberty with 87,344 miles cost $18,085 for repairs and a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with just 71,499 miles cost $9,123 in repair costs.

The Hicks-Hudson administration is asking council to approve $117,372 to buy new Jeeps for the city's water and sewer department.

Councilmen did a double-take at color pictures of the Jeeps with the mileage and repair costs.

Councilman Lindsay Webb questioned why some of the vehicles identified to be replaced had such low mileage.

“The mileage is fairly low on a couple of these — it's under 100,000,” Ms. Webb said. “I'd like to hear the explanation as to why the low-mileage repairs.”

Councilman Peter Ujvagi was first to question why taxpayers were paying so much for repairs.

“I'm struck by the repair costs … I have had cars for 10-15 years years, 18 years and to have 26,000 in repair costs, $19,000 in repair costs, $18,000 in repair costs for a vehicle that has 87,000 miles on it,” Mr. Ujvagi said. “Something doesn't fit. Something doesn't quite add up here... The numbers just don't make sense.”

Councilman Rob Ludeman was next.

“That first vehicle ... the mileage is only 6,200 miles a year and I mentioned I have 120,000 miles on my vehicle,” Mr. Ludeman said. I do regular oil, tires, things like that. If I spend $300 a year on that vehicle, it is too much. So we have to have an accounting of this.”

City Utilities Director Ed Moore said the city-owned Jeep was used differently than personal vehicles.

Mr Ludeman responded: “I don't know about that.”

Mr. Moore continued, saying: “They are driven for multiple hours on end, through a lot of hazardous conditions, through winter, through whatever it may be.”

He said it is more economical to replace the vehicles rather than keep fixing problems.

City employees fix the vehicles, Mr. Moore said.

Mr. Ludeman asked for a detailed list of the repairs.

City spokesman Carrie Hartman did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the number of new trucks being purchased and the number of trucks being replaced. A call to the city’s utilities department was directed back to the Ms. Hartman in the Mayor’s office. 

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com419-724-6171, or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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