COVENTRY — The Coventry Town Council voted this week to join a program meant to better the quality of Coventry’s vehicle fleet as it saves the town thousands of dollars in vehicle-related expenses every year.  

During its first in-person meeting since the coronavirus pandemic hit 16 months ago, the Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to authorize the partnership with Enterprise Fleet Management. 

The program, which Town Manager Benjamin Marchant also helped to implement in the Pennsylvania township where he worked before coming to Coventry, will bring the town’s aging fleet into good condition while allowing it to get a handle on maintenance costs, he said Monday. 

Coventry’s fleet includes 45 light- and medium-duty vehicles, excluding police vehicles, whose average age is around 12 years. Vehicles have on average been used for 17 years, but under the partnership with Enterprise, each vehicle will be resold and then replaced when its potential equity is at a maximum — typically after around four years. 

The program is projected to reduce the town’s fuel costs by around 20 percent, since older vehicles are less fuel efficient, and its maintenance costs on non-emergency response vehicles by 57 percent, according to an analysis by Enterprise.

It’s projected that the program could save the town well over $180,000 in the next decade, according to the analysis. 

“We’re keeping our costs down from year-to-year,” Marchant added, “so we should not see an increase in our fleet management expenses for the duration of this agreement.”

The program is also meant to improve safety of the town’s vehicles. 

Ten of Coventry’s current vehicles predate Anti-Lock Brake standardization, Enterprise’s analysis says, while 16 predate Electronic Stability Control standardization and 27 predate standardization of the back-up camera. 

Enterprise will handle everything from purchasing vehicles at factory cost on the town’s behalf to selling them later on, Rob Davis of Enterprise Fleet Management told councilors during a meeting last month. And Enterprise can typically get at least 10 percent over a vehicle’s Black Book commercial value.

Through open-ended leasing, the town will be able to pay each lease down, building equity that could then be rolled into the cost of its next vehicle. 

The town will also be assigned a dedicated account team to assist with strategic planning and to keep an ongoing analysis of the town’s vehicles. 

Around $100,000 was budgeted this year to put toward leasing replacements for 10 of the town’s most rundown vehicles. The amount budgeted will fluctuate each fiscal cycle, Marchant said, based on how many vehicles the town needs replaced. 

“Some years could be more or less,” he said, “depending on what we have on our replacement schedule.”

According to a draft replacement schedule, the town could have the entire fleet replaced within six years.

Before Monday’s vote was taken, Council Vice President Jennifer Ludwig thanked Marchant for pursuing the program. 

“I think we’ve seen a number vehicles over the last six months that are in atrocious condition,” she said. “Finding a way to bring us into the future with newer vehicles, working with Enterprise Fleet, it just makes sense.”

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