Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
During a workshop meeting of the Madison County District School Board on Monday, Dec. 4, Chief Financial Officer Walter Copeland addressed the Board about the aging bus fleet. Copeland told the Board that there have been no new busses purchased since 2012, and the average age of the busses in the fleet is nearly 12-years old. The average mileage is approximately 140,000 miles and currently there are no busses under warranty. On the average, each bus travels approximately 15,000 miles every year.
Because of the aging bus fleet and the increased safety risks involved, Copeland began exploring options for the school district. Copeland presented the Board with figures related to leasing nine new busses and compared those figures with leasing 12 new busses. The total cost per unit (bus) would be approximately $108,000. The interest rate would be 2.43 percent for seven years with a 12 unit lease. The cost of leasing nine units would be $150,439 per year. The cost of leasing 12 units would be just over $200,000
If nine units were leased, this would drop the average age of the fleet to 8.25 years old. If 12 units were leased, this would drop the average age of the fleet to 6.95 years old. If nine units were leased, 20.45 percent of the fleet would be under warranty. If 12 units were leased, 27 percent of the fleet would be under warranty. Adding newer busses to the fleet would also result in both fuel and maintenance savings. For instance, adding 12 new busses to the fleet would result in fuel savings of approximately $18,000 per year, and the maintenance savings of 12 new units would be an estimated $26,369 annually. “By getting the fleet moving in the right direction, we are not going to off-set the lease costs, but we're going to have safe busses,” said Copeland. “I'm afraid the situation we're getting into is, if we don't play 'catch-up' right now with a large acquisition, we're never going to be able to get back into a cycle of dropping a[n] [older] bus, perhaps two, every year. [We're] going to be forever looking at five or six years and scratching our heads and saying, 'gosh, we have to go purchase 10 – 12 new busses.' I think this will get us into a position where we're in better shape, and we can better manage smaller unit purchases going forward. Unfortunately, we've got to play catch-up.”
Copeland was asked to continue to seek out a 12-unit lease and report back to the Board during the next regular meeting.
The next regular meeting of the Madison County District School Board will take place on Monday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m., in the Board meeting room at 210 NE Duval Ave., in Madison.