Chapel Hill Police Department to have diesel car

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

By Karen Hall


Members of Chapel Hill's Police Department will soon be driving a Volkswagen Passat as one of their patrol cars.

A police vehicle was included in this year's budget said Town Administrator Mark Graves, so he decided to investigate what would be the best and most economical buy for the town. He compared the purchase prices and running costs of the diesel Passat with new and used V6 and V8 gas-powered patrol cars, and due to the vastly improved fuel mileage, the Passat came out cheaper per year, and will have a better resale value. The Passat is estimated to get 30 mpg in town and 44 mpg on the highway, while the best of the gasoline models gets 16 mpg in town and 28 mpg highway.

Graves visited Belle Meade Police Department in Nashville because it has been using Passats since 2010.

"The chief is very happy with them," he reported.

"My goal was to get a good vehicle for the police to drive," Graves explained to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday night. "Then we can follow that route over the next five to six years."

"Lots of agencies have gone with VW," added Police Chief Chris Cook. "I'm very excited to have that opportunity."

The bid for the Passat came in higher than he expected, and way more than a surplus police car would have cost, Graves admitted.

"It's financially feasible to own a new vehicle when gaining that much mileage," he said. "This is a new idea, but it is my recommendation to go with this vehicle" even though it will take a budget amendment to get it done. The aldermen unanimously agreed with him, and the Passat will be purchased in the near future.

Speaking of budgets, Graves and Recorder/Treasurer Abby Gibbons, who took over their jobs in July, have been working hard on the town's accounts.

Alderman Tommy Lawrence asked if the substantial amount in the Water and Sewer Department's checking account (over $300,000) should be moved to a CD and earn interest.

"The short answer is 'yes,' but I don't have enough understanding of our cash flow to be comfortable with investing in a CD right now." said Graves. "I've been trying to catch up on the finances since I got here."

"I've been working on the budget," added Gibson. "At next month's meeting I'll give you a statement of what's being spent in each department, versus what was budgeted."

In addition to the BOMA meeting in November, the mayor and aldermen are scheduling a day-long retreat to discuss the budget, and other topics like the town's employment policies. By January they plan to have their boards and committees set up, said Mayor Danny Bingham.

The manager of the new Walmart Neighborhood Market being built in Chapel Hill, Billy Council, was at the meeting to introduce himself.

"I look forward to working with the City of Chapel Hill," he said. "I'm transferring here from Bolivar (in West Tennessee), but I spent 16 years of my Walmart career in Middle Tennessee, so I'm looking forward to being back."