NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield Police Department will soon own five new vehicles, with a bid for three SUVs and two Ford Fusions awarded to MHQ Municipal Vehicles this week.

North Smithfield Fire and Rescue, meanwhile, will purchase one new pumper truck from town-based C & S Specialty, Inc. at a cost of roughly $561,000.

MHQ Municipal Vehicles was one of two bidders for the police vehicle contract, and the only one to provide a cost for the SUVs. According to Chief Tim Lafferty, the department initially planned to add four new SUVs to the fleet, but the Marlborough, Mass. company was able to include the two unmarked fusions – currently in high demand – for roughly the same price.

“The money is almost equal,”  Lafferty said, noting that due to pandemic-related supply chain issues, Ford is no longer making the Fusions. “They’re flying off the parking lots.”

The chief noted that the cars are needed as one in the department’s fleet currently has around 130,000 miles.

“We felt it was prudent to pick up the Fusions for now, before we can’t get them next year,” Lafferty said.

The bid, which includes all of the needed equipment for the police cars, came in at $207,285, with the SUVs to cost $50,825 each, and the Fusions priced at $27,405 a piece.

The purchases were approved in the town’s 2021 budget and will be paid in full through the town’s capital funds, plus reserves from the prior fiscal year.

“They do have the funds to buy all five vehicles,” said Finance Director Cynthia DeJesus.

How the town will finance the fire truck, a Toyne 1500 GPM 750 gallon pumper, is not as clear.

The truck will replace a 20-year-old pumper that has sat in reserve since 2018, but continues to cost the department in repairs, according to Chief David Chartier.

“We feel strongly that this purchase needs to take place now,” Chartier told councilors. “Since that truck has been in reserve, we’ve spent just over $27,000 just to keep it reliable for us to be able to put on the road when needed.”

The chief said when they recently brought the truck in for state inspection, it needed front rims and had a leaky fuel tank, along with pump issues.

Chartier received three bids for the new vehicle, with C & S providing the lowest at $561,378. On Tuesday, he told members of the Town Council that the department could lease the vehicle with five-year financing that would see annual payments of $119,500.

“We do still believe that that’s a viable option for purchasing the apparatus,” Chartier said. “That would keep money available in that account instead of taking it all in one shot because we do have a rescue that’s going to be due for replacement in 2023.”

But DeJesus said she’s unsure if that would be the best plan for financing the expense.

“I would like to do a little more research on it,” DeJesus said. “I don’t feel it would be the most cost-effective. We do have the money for this. We also have a five year plan as to how all these rescues and engines will be purchased.”

“We don’t want to borrow if we don’t have to,” DeJesus added. “It just affects our ratings.”

Chartier noted that the quote is for apparatus only does not include the cost for equipment such as radios.

Councilors unanimously awarded the bids for both contracts, with financing of the truck to be determined at a later date.

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