The Harrison County Commissioners Court is exploring a new option with Enterprise Fleet Management in hopes of building a better fleet for the county’s departments.

Following a presentation by fleet consultant, Nathan Pickle, during a recently special-called meeting, the court voted to pursue more information in order to consider entering into an agreement.

“It is basically a leasing program that would allow the county to significantly reduce the age of our fleet for about the same annual cost,” said Harrison County Judge Chad Sims. “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.”

According to its website, efleets.com, with hands-on management, 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.

“Currently we are reviewing a proposed agreement and considering its impact to our budget,” said Sims.

“They projected an annual savings of about $13,000,” he said of Enterprise Fleet Management.

Departments represented at the meeting included purchasing, road and bridge, the sheriff’s office, constables and juvenile services. Most departments had a dire fleet need for the upcoming budget season, which begins Oct. 1

The sheriff’s office is set to receive new vehicles, for instance. The court was also able to fulfill some of road and bridge’s fleet needs and also replace a 1999 van used by juvenile detention services.

Pickle said 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.

“We look across manufactures for that, because one year the Ford may be giving better incentives than General Motors,” Pickle said, for example, “so we want to provide that.”

Details also include licensing, titles, tax, registration and recall management.

Pickle said the company’s accountants also meet with clients, prior to budget season in the spring and early summers, to review an in-depth analysis of fleet usage, expenditures and needs to help clients make the best decisions regarding their fleet.

“Understanding as market value goes down and as your fuel maintenance costs go up, understand that sweet (time) of when to sell the vehicle is an art,” said Pickle. “And Enterprise and our infrastructure, just our spirit of buying and selling over two million vehicles a year, that’s the expertise that we bring to you.”

Pickle said the company has software that allows them to compare manufacturers.

“You tell me what you want but I’m going to come and show you different makes and models. For us, we just want to show you the one that has the lowest total cost of ownership,” he said.

He noted that, right now, the county acquires vehicles through a cooperative contract with local dealers, paying cash. The county also utilizes local shops for maintenance and use auctions for disposal. He said the county doesn’t have a real tracking mechanism like Enterprise. According to its website, the company can measure performance, safety, productivity and compliance with advanced fleet telematics, tracking, and management technology. With the cellular telematics device, clients can gain access to a wealth of real-time, vehicle-specific data through their online portal, including GPS location, speed, fuel usage and engine performance, and capture insights that will help them optimize fleet performance and savings.

“Our key objective in this potential partnership is really what will be the financial impact on the county and the taxpayers,” said Pickle. “And then locally, use the local dealer, utilize local shops for maintenance and then just increasing efficiency….giving you guys some streamline pieces of the puzzle to look at.”

Additionally, he said Enterprise will handle, at the county’s request the outfitting of any after-market equipment that’s needed on a vehicle, such as a flatbed for a truck or equipment on a patrol unit.

“We handle in getting in the middle to coordinate all of that with the purchasing. We don’t dictate what you need; you need to tell me that,” said Pickle. “But that’s going to be something that’s handled by our team. Today you guys have to handle all that yourselves. We’ll handle all the logistics of that.”

The program also offers a maintenance management program, vehicle accident management, transparent pricing and more.