What can you even say to defend a financial decision like this one? According to a report by Detroit’s WXYZ television news team, the City of Detroit has been leasing a 2004 Dodge Intrepid since September 2003, over six years after the original two-year-lease expired. Since the City did not return the car, it has continued to make the $608 per month lease payments, even as it racked up miles well beyond the 40,000 in the original agreement, for which it now must pay 15 cents per mile. According to the report, the City has spent over $65,000 for the car, which it doesn’t even own.
That’s not all. WXYZ says that Detroit has 110 of these expired lease agreements on 2004 through 2007 models, and all of the cars are still on the road, wasting money with every tick of the odometer. Remember too, the City still has to turn in all 110 cars, and pay for excess wear and tear.
An estimate of the city’s losses incurred by this leasing scheme is well over $4 million, according to the report. The cars are all being used by the Detroit Police Department, and though they’re not quite full-zoot police cruisers like the 2002 Intrepid pictured above, they see action for undercover work. That means it’s not just the taxpayers who are getting a bad deal here, but the cops themselves, as I am pretty sure none of them are particularly happy to be out risking their lives in an eight-year-old Dodge.
If you look to find the faintest silver lining to this epic thunderstorm of mismanagement, it would be that perhaps in the publicity sure to follow, a few of Detroit’s residents might better understand why and how leasing can cost more than financing a new car purchase in some cases.