There is more room in the Forest Park fire and police departments’ parking lots after the Village Council voted last month to authorize disposing of five vehicles.

The five vehicles, two from the fire department and three from the police department, were determined to be unsafe to drive and not worth the expense of repair.

The Village Council voted unanimously on March 11 to authorize police Chief Tom Aftanas to dispose of two Ford Crown Victorias and two Dodge Chargers, all from the detective fleet. Aftanas later decided to keep one of the Chargers because it is “still a functional vehicle” and the amount the used car broker was offering was less than the vehicle’s value. The Crown Victorias are 2005 and 2006 models and the Chargers are both 2007 models.

Aftanas said the village received a total of $2,500 for the other three vehicles.

The disposal of the three vehicles leaves eight vehicles in the detective fleet, the newest of which is a 2009 Chevrolet Impala. The patrol fleet has 16 vehicles.  

In his memo to the Village Council, Aftanas noted the Crown Victorias each have 112,000 miles, are experiencing mechanical issues and are rarely used by personnel. He noted the Chargers have fewer miles but also are experiencing mechanical issues.

Aftanas said he plans to use asset forfeiture account funds to purchase one new detective vehicle in the “near future.” He said he is not sure when he will make the purchase.

“We’re in no hurry,” he said. “It’s not an emergency.”

The state and federal forfeiture accounts include cash and other valuables confiscated from suspects arrested and charged with drug crimes. The amount in the accounts varies from year to year, depending on the number of arrests and what valuables are in the suspects’ possession. The state account was at $280,000 and the federal customs account at $306,000 in December 2018, according to Aftanas.

The Village Council also voted 5-0 on March 25 to authorize fire Chief Bob McDermott to dispose of two Ford Explorers, one a 2000 model and the other a 2002 model, both of which have been used for administrative calls by the training officer and the fire inspector.

In his memo to the Village Council, McDermott said the 2000 model needs $1,000 in brake service and the 2002 model needs $2,000 in transmission service with the repair costs exceeding the value of the vehicles. 

McDermott said the department has already ordered one replacement vehicle, a 2019 Ford Escape, based on a recommendation from Building Department officials who are using that model.

The cost, which is $21,000 for the vehicle plus the expense of additional features, will be covered by Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Board funds.

McDermott explained that the state collects a 2 percent tax on fire insurance policies sold by insurance companies not based in Illinois. The funds are collected by the Illinois Municipal League and distributed to individual fire departments and fire protection districts. McDermott said the board uses the funds received, which he estimates at between $25,000 and $30,000 annually, to purchase equipment generally. 

“The parameters state that the funds be spent for the maintenance and benefit of the fire department,” he said. “We use it for things we need to do our jobs.”

McDermott said he had hoped to include purchase of at least one replacement vehicle in the 2019 budget but “with our financial situation we couldn’t do it.”

Instead, he submitted a proposal to the members of the tax board, of which he is a member, and they agreed to cover the cost in five annual payments not to exceed $5,200 per year.

McDermott said when the vehicle will be delivered depends on the availability on the requested color – red.