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Chief hopes flex-fuel vehicles will help earn $200,000 alternative fuel grant

CROWN POINT — Police Chief Pete Land wants to be able to take advantage of a potentially almost $200,000 in free E-85 fuel so this year’s vehicle purchases are all flex-fuel.

Land received approval Wednesday from the Board of Public Works and Safety to move ahead with the purchase of four new vehicles for the department including one SUV for a total cost of $99,778 not including trade-ins.

The chief wants to tap $199,500 in potential CMAQ Alternative Fuel grant funding that may be available to the department when new grant cycle begins in August.

“If we get the grant we want to be able to take advantage,” Land said.

Currently the department’s fleet has two flex-fuel vehicles. Land said the department contacted nine dealerships for information on packages available and received seven bids. There were changes to the state bid this year that for the first time in a while included several new types of vehicle options.

The department will be purchasing two 2012 Dodge Chargers from Thomas Dodge and a 2013 Taurus Interceptor and four wheel drive Explorer from Smith Ford.

Mayor David Uran said the ability to get reimbursed for E-85 fuel purchases represents a possibility for tremendous savings to the city.

“That’s a great shot in the arm for the budget,” Uran said.

Land said the department will turn to flex-fuel vehicles in 2013 as well. In 2010, the department used 46,064 gallons of gasoline. In 2011, it used 39,496 gallons. He said if the grant is approved there is no time limit to tap the full $199,500 reimbursement amount. How long it takes will depend on the price of fuel and how many vehicles are able to use E-85.

Land said the purchase does not deplete the 2012 vehicle replacement budget of about $125,000 and gives the department a little wiggle room if something unexpected were to happen to a vehicle in the fleet. If that money is not spent, a fifth vehicle may be purchased later this year.

The new vehicles are slated to replace a 2001 four wheel drive Ford with 103,200 miles, a 2003 Chevrolet with 102,900 miles, a 2005 Chevrolet with 70,328 miles and a 2005 Chevrolet with 89,900 miles.

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