The city of Paragould is looking to save money on gasoline prices.

At Monday’s meeting of the city council, it waived competitive bidding to buy two 2022 Tesla Model 3 electric-powered vehicles for the police department.

The two vehicles cost $20,000 each, which puts the total price above the newly state-approved $35,000 threshold for competitive bids.

“Tesla is the sole source for these vehicles,” Paragould Mayor Josh Agee told the council during discussion of the ordinance required to waive competitive bids. “Nobody else makes them.”

Agee explained the reasoning for buying the electric vehicles. “[Police patrol Capt.] Brent McCain spent hours researching this,” he said. Noting the Tesla costs about $1,300 more than the currently used Ford Explorer to be fully outfitted for police use ($51,206 versus $49,902.84), Agee said that the savings on gasoline in the worst case would be $3,831 per year per vehicle on average.

Noting that a police car tends to last about five years in city usage, Agee said the total savings in fuel over the expected lives of the two Teslas comes to about $35,000. “It’s between $15,000 and $18,000 per unit per year,” he said. “So we feel it’s a good use for taxpayer dollars.”

Agee acknowledged two charging stations, paid for with a grant from the Volkswagen settlement and administered by the state of Arkansas, will be available in the city to recharge the vehicles. “I spoke with Darrell [Phillips] at PLWC earlier today,” he said, “and they have applied for that same grant, and they’re going to put two more charging stations in the first quarter of 2022, so we will have four.”

Agee said the city had also asked Tesla to install a supercharger. Whereas a full charge from one of the charging stations would take an hour, use of a supercharger would cut the time to 15 minutes. “We haven’t received word back [yet],” Agee said, “but that will be at no cost to the city.”

Agee said the two Teslas would be assigned to traffic enforcement. He explained that assigning the vehicles where they would receive the hardest use would determine how they would hold up.

The vehicles should be delivered in mid-January 2022.

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