Cost of city-owned 'hot rod' questioned - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cost of city-owned 'hot rod' questioned

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According to General Services Director Estrice Boone, the Charger was a wrecked Memphis Police Department vehicle that General Services repaired, taking parts from other wrecked city vehicles. According to General Services Director Estrice Boone, the Charger was a wrecked Memphis Police Department vehicle that General Services repaired, taking parts from other wrecked city vehicles.

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad says cutting flashy cars from the city's fleet is better than cutting services. 

According to Conrad, custom paint, chrome-plated wheels, a scooped hood, dual exhaust, and fancy emblems have no place on a city-owned, taxpayer funded car.

Conrad was referring to the city-owned vehicle currently being used by General Services Director Estrice Boone, a Dodge Charger rebuilt out of a wrecked police car.

"It's simply an extravagance we cannot afford when we're looking at possible having to increase taxes," he said.

During CIP Budget talks that call to cut $50 million from the Memphis City budget, Conrad asked the city for a list of every employee with a city car and the cost for maintenance, fuel cost and insurance.

"We asked for a list," he said. "We got a partial list. The totals didn't add up, so I asked for the actual spread sheet so I could do the totals myself."

The list has several costs that are not available.  It also doesn't include costs for insuring the vehicles.    

Conrad says making cuts and then souping up a so-called 'hot rod' sends mixed messages.

"Just like when we have a division director who lives outside the city of Memphis through some charter loophole, and that director is responsible for the Rape Crisis Center, according to your report, let nurses go because of the residency requirement. That's hypocrisy, it's a double standard," he said.

Conrad says he has one hope.

"That they won't fight us," he said. "They won't cut police and rat control and things that people care about."

Conrad says city-owned, taxpayer funded vehicles should only go to officials responding to city emergencies.

Meanwhile, a local collision repair show owner is questioning how much it really cost to soup up the Charger.  According to Boone, the Charger was a wrecked Memphis Police Department vehicle that General Services repaired, taking parts from other wrecked city vehicles.

However, the R/T emblem wasn't on the original car, along with the Magnum emblem and the hood scoop. Boone said it cost about $3,400 to repair the car - much less than buying new.

"You couldn't turn that car into that other car for no $3,400," Thomas Ray of Ray's Auto Collision said Wednesday.

Parts, labor and materials included.

"If they got those kind of parts and all those cars, wouldn't it be more feasible to put the cars in a lot and sell them to salvage yards and recoup some money there?" Ray asked.

Ray estimates the hood scoop cost $800 to $900, the wheels cost $175 to $225 each and the window tint cost $250.  But that's just the beginning.

"You have to take off all your handles, your belt moldings, your mirrors, all the weather strips.  It gets real expensive.  I'm talking $2,500-$3,500 minimum," Ray said.

The metallic, pearly color costs much more than the plain white, and the emblems were likely pricey.

"Of course all the R/T, HEMI emblems, you're talking probably $200-$300 on the emblems alone," he said.

And then there's replacement of internal parts.

"You're talking $2,500 to replace all the air bags, modules, the clock springs," he said.

Ultimately, according to Ray, it was likely an expensive job.

"I'd like to have one myself and have the city pay for it," he said. "I mean something like this, if they built this thing out of city vehicles, I really think they could probably sell this vehicle and maybe replace it with two other vehicles."

Once again, Boone, who's in charge of the city's body shop, says his workers used parts from other wrecked vehicles.  But Ray says the standard white would have cost much less.

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