The Elgin City Council unanimously voted Wednesday night to spend nearly half a million dollars to buy 14 new public safety vehicles.
The $498,759 expense comes from public safety impact fees set aside in an escrow account, Elgin CFO Colleen Lavery said.
The vehicles are 10 Ford Explorer Interceptor SUVs at $38,600 each to be used as black-and-white patrol cars; one Ford Explorer Interceptor SUV at about $34,300 to be used as an all-black patrol car; two Ford Explorer Interceptor SUVs at about $28,000 each to be used as command staff vehicles for police and public works; and one Ford Transit van at about $22,300 to be used as an animal control and community service vehicle.
Public Works Superintendent Dan Rich supervised a review of replacement needs for all departments that have fleet vehicles, officials said. The staff agreed public safety vehicles have the highest priority for replacement.
Councilman John Prigge asked why the police department has moved away from buying traditional squad cars.
Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said the all-wheel drive capability of the Ford Interceptor and its back storage space fit the department's needs.
"We found it's the one that has worked the best," he said, adding that automakers have stopped making some of the more traditional police vehicles.
Councilman John Steffen questioned whether the city is budgeting vehicle purchases properly, to avoid large, one-time expenses such as this one.
City Manager Sean Stegall said the staff is working on establishing a more regular cycle of purchasing for its vehicle fleet. In the past, the city spent up to $1 million at a time on replacing vehicles, he said.
The council voted to award the contract to Morrow Brothers Ford Inc. in Greenfield, Ill., and Currie Motors Auto Group, which has locations in Frankfort and Forest Park.
The city is saving money by using the Suburban Purchasing Cooperative and the state's Joint Purchasing Program to buy the vehicles, officials said.