WTOL Investigates Police Car Repair in Toledo

WTOL: TOLEDO -- Is the city of Toledo wasting your money? That's the question News 11 has been asking during our several-month investigation into just how much the city spends on maintaining police vehicles. What we found may shock you.

"Holy cow!" was the reaction we got from city Finance and Budget Committee Chair George Sarantou when we showed him the research. "I'm amazed," said Sarantou, "Amazed that kind of money has been spent."

Here's what amazes him. A police van, vehicle number 91, is a 1997 Chevrolet G-20. It has close to 315,000 miles on it. It also has a number of dents, rust, and duct tape holding it together. The city has spent more than $61,500 to repair it. And get this -- it's top retail value is only about $4,800. "It certainly doesn't make any sense," said Sarantou.


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Typical of a bureaucracy and why we shouldn't trust anything that comes out of any government. They can spend our money faster than the presses can print it.

"His skills in finance, as well as his passion for community service are valued assets to Toledo City Council. As Chairman of the City

apparently isn't a criteria for the city's fleet of cars. I remember early on that inventory depending on it's use requires replacement over it useful life. Therefore the replacement costs were factored into your revenue and expense figures each year. It appears in Toledo things are expected to last forever or cost is not an issue and you just keep pouring money down the drain,

What would happen if the cars were purchased on a scheduled basis and the care of the cars became the responsibility of an outside source? What would the savings be? Oh and who gets the money for all this extended car care?


...is the way that maintenance is handled. A city department has significant 'overhead' that must be factored into the cost it 'charges' other departments for service. IT, pension costs, finance department, legal department...all these things are higher than what a local business would pay - especially the pension costs when the city picks up the entire portion that the employee would normally pay.

So when they list how much is 'paid' for maintenance, the costs are artificially high.

Additionally, in the past, the replacement plan for vehicles has fallen by the wayside in favor of other projects with, imho, higher political visibility (can anyone say bike paths, trees and lights?)

...I wish that more local media would do reports like this one.


I'm not an advocate of straight leasing, but in this case it would make sense.

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

Even though I have no illusions that Toledo is wasting my money, I'm not ready to drop the gavel and pass judgment on this issue just yet.

The story seems to leave out some important facts. First, how much would it cost to replace one of those police automobiles? Second, they don't say at what year the car was added to fleet and then show the maintenance schedule on a per year basis so we can see when the bulk of the money was spent. I think this information is crucial before you can make an informed judgment on the issue.

I will admit, spending nearly $52,000 in repairs on a car that is only 6 years old is outrageous. Who does the city send the cars to for repair? I think if we follow the money trail we'll discover the truth about why the vehicles have been repaired rather than replaced.

It seems that Maggie has given me an answer to who it is that fixes the cars; the city itself. No wonder Toledo has a problem with capital investment; the city isn't even willing to invest in its own residents by having the city vehicles fixed by a local business.

Instead of using tax dollars to help private auto shops build wealth, they are simply redistributing what was already here in the form of tax revenue. Sounds like socialism at work.

Matt Holdridge

There's not enough information given to really comment about this right now. Here's what I'm thinking...

Say a car is 2 years old, resale value of $15k in working condition, requires $5k in repairs. Simple fix. $5k fix on a $15k car.

The next year, car worth, say, $12k. Requires a repair for $3k. Again, justifiable.

Next year, car worth $10k. Repair costs $3k. Again, it would be dumb not to fix it.

But, at that moment, you'd have sunk $11k in repairs into a car that is only worth $10k at that time.

The point, which they teach you in Biz School 101 is that you have to look past sunk-cost. That money has already been spent. The only question is "Does it make sense to dump $3k in repairs into this car that's worth $10k?"

Not as an excuse - but as a review of practices. The only time I was involved in it I worked for a leasing dept in Col's at a Ford dealership. We leased police cars back then (wow, it's been 20 years ago) b/c it made no sense to shoulder the cost of purchase AND maintenance. Lease and the cost of maint. was the smartest way to go to get the lowest annualize expense at that time.

Is that something the dept' in Toledo researches?

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

ShaneH, I would have to agree with you; you articulated what I was trying to say much better. This does open the door to looking at the benefit of leasing police vehicles, or better yet doing a cost comparison to whether it's prudent for the city to do the repairs itself or to have them bid out to local private shops.

I'm going to guess that the latter would be cheaper.

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler

are the costs associated with getting the new car street ready.

Things like marking the car (decals, lights & sirens), installing the push bumpers, consoles, mobile data computer, the console, specialized electronics (radio, cameras & recorders, etc.) can drive the cost to make the car street-ready would take your breath away.

What was once a ~$20,000 car can easily become a $30,000+ police cruiser.

Knowing that, the repair cost decisions take on a different light.

Hooda Thunkit

"Even though I have no illusions that Toledo is wasting my money,"

You state in your bio that you live in Arlington, Va.

"Sounds like socialism at work."

Perhaps the definition of socialism is not correct?

"Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community.[1] This control may be either direct

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