Political notebook: County looks to use loan to purchase new vehicles

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rowan County is looking to take out more than $1 million to bolster it’s fleet of cars.

In total, the county owns 265 vehicles, an overwhelming majority from the sheriff’s office. Last week, the county began soliciting requests for proposals to finance the purchase of 31 vehicles. The vehicles include: 25 cars for the sheriff’s office; one van for the Rowan Public Library; two trucks for Facilities Management and three vehicles, including two ambulances, for the Emergency Services Department.

The amount of vehicles being purchased is greater than the number of vehicles used in any individual department, other than the sheriff’s office.

The principal amount of the requested financing is $1.1 million. The request states a financing term of about three years. The first payment would be due on April 1, 2015.

The requests asks for a fixed interest rate that’s guaranteed for at least 30 days.

The period when copes will be accepted ends at 10 a.m. on Dec. 4.

The vehicles will replace others that were either declared surplus earlier in the 2015 fiscal year or will be declared surplus later.

As for the loans and interest, the $1.1 million will add to just over $35,000 listed in the fiscal year 2015 budget as principal on remaining vehicle debt. The interest listed for vehicles in the current year budget is a hair over $1,000.

In an interview for a story published in late October, Capt. Sam Towne, who oversees the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office fleet of vehicles, said cars fetch several thousand, at the high end, when auctioned off. At the low end, Towne said vehicles may only get a few hundred.

So, clearly the loan amount will be more than what the vehicles are sold for, but that’s identical to how getting a loan for a vehicle works for individuals.

The purchase of new vehicles usually happens at the same, or close to the same, time as vehicles are declared surplus, said purchasing agent David Sifford in the October article.

County offices were closed Friday and county officials didn’t return requests for comment.

McCrory says North Carolina now recovered from recession

Following the announcement that North Carolina’s overall unemployment rate fell 6.3 percent, Gov. Pat McCrory said the state had officially recovered all of its jobs that were lost during the 2008 recession.

“We will remain focused on long-term job creation because North Carolina will continue to attract people and businesses because of the improvements we’ve made to the business climate and quality of life through tax reform and investments in areas such as education,” McCrory said in a news release.

The release cited the overall number of people employed as a basis for McCrory’s statement. The release said 4.18 million people were employed in the state in October, exceeding the the pre-recession high of 4.17 million in February 2008.

“We will reach another employment milestone soon when North Carolina employers pay off the federal unemployment insurance debt that at one time exceeded $2.5 billion,” McCrory said in the release. “Once that debt is paid, employers will have the capital and stability to make even more job-creating investments. Achieving these milestones was not easy, but we will continue to make the tough decisions that will lead to a more prosperous North Carolina.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246