A month after hearing a presentation from Enterprise Fleet Management, the Harrison County Commissioners Court approved the firm, on Wednesday, to manage the county’s vehicles in hopes of building a better fleet and realize potential savings.

“This is a new program that we would like to enter into an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management to enlist their help managing our fleet vehicles to not only improve the age of our fleet, but also save us some money,” said Harrison County Judge Chad Sims.

Enterprise Fleet Management previously projected an annual savings of about $13,000. Contracts with the company that were approved on Wednesday included an agreement to sell customer vehicles, a consignment auction agreement, and an amendment to the master equity leased agreement and maintenance agreement.

“These documents have been reviewed by our assistant D.A., Bob Cole,” Judge Sims said, noting county auditor, Becky Haynes, also reviewed the financial statements.

Sims noted before that the leasing program would allow the county to significantly reduce the age of its fleet for about the same annual cost.

“While the county would benefit from the help with Enterprise managing our fleet, including maintenance and replacement, the biggest benefit would be to have a much newer fleet,” he said.

Harrison County currently has a fleet of 149 vehicles used in 10 departments, which includes road and bridge, the sheriff’s office, constables and juvenile services. The average age of the fleet is nine years.

“We had planned to purchase 10 vehicles this year,” said Sims. Now, “with Enterprise, we’ll be able to lease 30 vehicles for about the same budgeted expense.”

Enterprise Fleet Consultant Nathan Pickle noted the delivery time on vehicles varies.

“The vast majority of them, we’ll factory order directly, so it could be anywhere from a short eight weeks up to 22 weeks, depending on the type of vehicle and then obviously the amount of (outfit) equipment that may need to be put on certain vehicles (such as) emergency vehicles,” said Pickle.

He said if the county needs a vehicle immediately then the company could go and search vehicles that are already on the ground at local dealers that are willing to work with both entities.

“So if there were some immediate needs that we need to get going we can absolutely do that,” Pickle said. “That happens from time to time.”

Pct. 1 Commissioner William Hatfield said they’ll need that assistance immediately as some vehicles in the sheriff’s department are currently down.

“We need them,” he said of new vehicles.

Pickle said the company will definitely work to identify the county’s most pressing needs.

The consultant noted before that the county’s current practice was acquiring vehicles through a cooperative contract with local dealers, paying cash. The county also utilized local shops for maintenance and used auctions for disposal.

With the new partnership with Enterprise, when it comes time to sell vehicles in the county’s fleet, the choice of selling or not selling will be up to the county, but Enterprise will act as a guide to assist the county in getting the best bang for its buck.

“So in addition to us getting new vehicles, that’s part of our fleet management, I think, that we’ve been missing — having nobody looking over our shoulder and helping us with those things,” Sims told commissioners. “It’s going to be a great benefit.”

Pickle said Enterprise will formally meet with county officials twice a year to assess the fleet, the condition of the fleet and market conditions and give recommendations based on those evaluations.

“You all are in control of that, but you can expect from us to give you market evaluations on current fleet and on what we see in the fleet a minimum twice a year,” he told the court.

According to its website, efleets.com, with hands-on management, award-winning technology, and the infrastructure and expertise of Enterprise, the world’s largest fleet operator, the company will show clients how far an exceptional fleet program can take their organization while saving them thousands.

Pickle noted before that through the program, Enterprise will provide the county with a day-to-day analysis that they need to make the best financial decisions every year around the fleet needs. That entails looking at which vehicle to purchase that functions properly, and also which vehicle has the lowest cost of ownership.

Details also include licensing, titles, tax, registration, and recall management. Pickle said the company also has software that allows them to compare manufacturers. The program also offers a maintenance management program, vehicle accident management, transparent pricing and more.