Local dealers miss out on $1.3M in city vehicle purchases - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Local dealers miss out on $1.3M in city vehicle purchases

September 29th, 2021 development
Local dealers miss out on $1.3M in city vehicle purchases

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

The City of Chandler plans to spend about $1.36 million to replace vehicles, but where it’s spending those tax dollars didn’t sit well with Councilman Matt Orlando.

The replacement vehicles will be purchased at  two dealerships in Phoenix, one in Peoria and another in Gilbert.

“We just can’t seem to get our local Chandler vendors to bid on some of these things when we’d keep those sales tax dollars in Chandler,” Councilmember Matt Orlando said during the Sept. 20 study session.

Dawn Lang, assistant city manager and chief financial officer, said the city contacts dealerships in Chandler when it needs to upgrade the city’s fleet, but most local ones don’t have the inventory needed to deal with a large contract.

“Unfortunately, especially as of recent, the chip shortage has really limited inventories, especially for our local vendors,” Lang said. “They typically turn us down. It’s just kind of the nature I think of the specialty vehicles that we purchase that they don’t have that inventory.”

The global semiconductor shortage – which, ironically, Intel in Chandler is trying to address with its $20 billion expansion – is squeezing the supply of microchips used to manufacture many motor vehicles.

Within the last few weeks, General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler and Ford all said their production likely will be slowed for months by the chip shortage, which they blamed on the move toward electric vehicles. However, they also said other parts shortages are beginning to emerge.

General Motors said it would pause production at most of its factories for anywhere from a week to several weeks during the next month or so.

“There is very little on dealer lots to actually sell,” Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Guidehouse Insights, told Consumer Reports recently. “If you anticipate needing a new car in the next six months, it’s probably best not to wait. Go ahead and place a factory order now.”

The city plans to purchase 40 vehicles. Some of those were scheduled to be bought last year, but that was put off because of the uncertainty over the pandemic.

Orlando asked Mike Hollingsworth, the city’s facilities and fleet manager, if he is considering buying some electric vehicles.

Hollingsworth said they are hoping to buy some electric vehicles but he wants to first make sure there is the infrastructure to support them.

Hollingworth said they’ve identified 31 charging station locations so far.

In other action last week, a number of council members expressed concern over a Planned Area Development request from the Planning and Zoning Commission for a large industrial project near Chandler Airport.

The main concern was over a stipulation they would look to reduce tree density near the Paseo Trail.

The project includes four buildings on about 26 acres on the northwest corner of Germann Road and Northrop Boulevard. The four buildings are nearly 400,000 total square feet.

Councilman Terry Roe praised the project’s design, saying it would be a beautiful addition to the city. However, Orlando, Mark Stewart and OD Harris all expressed concern about the stipulation calling for fewer trees.

Orlando said they won’t be cutting down any existing trees. The Planning and Zoning Commission is being careful in the number and type of trees being planted at new developments, because of concerns over how much water they will need.

In this case, they recommended going with fewer trees that are native to the region.

Meanwhile, it appears Council plans to approve $250,000 in funding for the Northern Arizona Technology and Business Incubator for another year.

Councilwoman Christine Ellis encouraged officials to make finding a building to host the incubator a priority, saying it was hurt last year because it did not have its own location.

She said while Chandler never shut down, that’s not true for private businesses that have agreed to host the incubator, and that relying on them made it harder for startups to get their businesses off to strong starts.

City Economic Development Director Micah Miranda said the city continues to focus on developing young tech businesses for the incubator program.