The whole point of leasing a car is so that you can get rid of it before it becomes a headache, right? Not so for the Detroit Police Department, which is paying millions in full lease payments on cars with leases that expired up to six years ago.
One of the cars is a 2004 Dodge Intrepid they've been paying $608 per month to keep.
Having gotten wind of the problem, the Motor City's 7 Action News sicked a team of investigative reporters on the Detroit Police, discovering that this mighty Dodge is one of a compliment of 110 vehicles with expired leases that the Department is paying to keep around. With model years ranging from 2004 to 2007, the city had two-year contracts for all 110 vehicles, and all of them are still on the road. Most have passed their initial mileage limit, racking up 15 cents per mile on top of the regular lease payments.
By now the cars are well used and aging, so maintenance costs are a real thing, too, with the potential of being compounded by wear and tear charges that are part of the lease agreement. Alan Reinstein, an accounting professor at Wayne State University told 7 Action News that the total cost for keeping 110 vehicles that should have been turned in years ago is about $4 million.
In a city so financially screwed up it's trying to lay off a quarter of its nearly 20,000 employees, this latest money leak doesn't come as much of a surprise. The Police Department has dumped $65,544 into this one Intrepid over the past eight years, and it doesn't even own the car. (A 2004 Intrepid cost less than $25,000 new and is worth between $4,600 and $5,800 now, depending upon its condition.)
Even worse is the fact that cars like this often end up as undercover police cruisers. Imagine a group of Detroit's nogoodniks seeing the same crappy Dodge cruise by year after year. Even though the city is undoubtedly rife with rolling slag heaps, they're bound to notice the same ones after a while. My gut tells me that would be a safety concern for undercover officers (although they don't need to worry about going undercover with Department of Homeland Security-funded tactical vehicles).
Meanwhile, most city employees can't get raises because of budget cuts. Nice one, Detroit.
Photo Credit: Chrysler