Columbia County commissioners last week authorized the purchase of 29 new vehicles, and 26 are full-size cars or trucks.
Fleet Manager Clayton Galloway said the past three years he has encouraged county department heads to consider midsize vehicles to decrease fuel consumption.
However, need determines vehicle size and about 80 percent of the county's almost 800-vehicle fleet are big vehicles for big jobs, Galloway said.
"You have to understand what these folks do determines if a midsize vehicle is a good fit," the fleet manager said.
"For example, Roads and Bridges has only one midsize vehicle," Galloway said.
"The reason being is because all of their trucks have to be able to pull an air compressor or a trailer," he said. "Midsize trucks don't lend themselves to that."
Other departments though, such as the Tax Assessor's Office and Development Services, have been using smaller vehicles because their needs don't include hauling or pulling heavy loads, Galloway said.
During a recent Community and Emergency Services Committee meeting, Commissioner Charles Allen complained that officials were not giving enough consideration to buying more fuel-efficient vehicles.
In particular, he noted that Animal Care and Control is getting two new full-size trucks when midsize trucks probably would suffice.
According to documents provided to commissioners last week, using smaller trucks for animal services would have been more costly.
Smaller trucks would require the purchase of smaller animal cages and smaller Tommy Gate lifts, which would have cost $2,800 per vehicle.
Also, smaller trucks come with bigger price tags.
The fleet manager said the county once purchased some mid-size Dodge Dakota pickups, but those trucks were never delivered due to a financial crisis at the car company.
The county also had considered buying some Chevrolet Colorado pickups, but Galloway said the model was discontinued.
"Even in the midsizes, we need at least a V6 (engine) and to get that in the Ford midsize means buying an XLT package," Galloway said. "That costs more than a full-size, half-ton pickup."
The Ford XLT Ranger costs $16,913, according to county documents. The Ford F-150 costs $16,382.
Still, Galloway said, small vehicles are purchased "anywhere they can fit."
"If we make a bad decision, get a mid-size vehicle and it's in the shop every week for transmission work because it was overloaded, we're not really saving anything," he said. "That's the balancing act."
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