County considers deal with rental car company

Monday, July 7, 2008

On Thursday, the Cape Girardeau County Commission was approached by Enterprise Rent-A-Car with a proposal to help cut traveling costs for county officials by renting cars.

Mark Block, corporate account manager who presented on behalf of Enterprise, said an agreement with his company would save the county money on mileage reimbursement costs in light of rising fuel prices. The proposal would allow county officials to rent vehicles from Enterprise at reduced rates already offered to the Missouri state government without having to go through a rebid process.

Cape Girardeau County currently allows its officials to use county-owned vehicles to travel or to be reimbursed for mileage in their personal vehicles. The rental car option would be in addition to those options, Block said.

When an official uses a personal vehicle, the county reimburses the individual at 38 cents per mile. At that rate, the 240-mile round trip to St. Louis in a personal vehicle would cost the county $91.20. The 430-mile round trip to Jefferson City, Mo., would cost the county $163.40.

If the county were to rent for its official travels, the costs would be for the rental and for fuel. The rental rate presented to the commission for a standard-size vehicle was $35 per day. The rate includes unlimited mileage per day.

Assuming the cost of regular unleaded fuel at $4 per gallon and a standard-size vehicle gets 25 miles per gallon, fuel for the roundtrip to St. Louis would cost $38.40. The total cost of the rental rate and the fuel would be $73.40 for a one-day rental. With the same assumptions, the total cost of the round trip to Jefferson City would cost $103.80 for a one-day rental.

The total cost of both trips would increase by $35 for each additional day the vehicle is rented.

Vehicles from Enterprise are rented over a 24-hour period. A county official could leave for St. Louis in the afternoon and return in the middle of the day the following day and still only pay the rate for one day.

Purchasing insurance from the car rental company could add to the rental cost. According to Block, insurance could cost around $6 or $7 (after negotiations) per vehicle per day. Block said the retail insurance rate was $15.99. Laura Bryant, director of public relations for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, said later those rates would be at the lower end of the spectrum and would probably only apply to smaller vehicles.

On Thursday, the county commission planned to determine whether their insurance extended to cover rental vehicles.

County officials could also take advantage of an agreement with Enterprise if they were to fly to a meeting out-of-state and rent a vehicle there. Bryant said officials could fly to Chicago and rent a car from Enterprise at the lowest available Internet rate with an additional 5 percent discount.

In the presentation, Block said he was flexible about the commitment the county would have to make to Enterprise. He said he could negotiate a low-volume one-year trial period of a $3,000 annual commitment.

Perry and Scott counties already have agreements with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, along with the city of Cape Girardeau. Negotiations are underway to reach a similar agreement with St. Louis County, Bryant said.

The agreement between Enterprise and the city that went into effect Oct. 2, 2007, and ends Oct. 2, states that Enterprise may terminate the agreement if the city does not do at least $1,500 worth of business per calendar quarter.

Nancy Poston, purchasing agent for Cape Girardeau city, said the city government encourages its employees to rent, but the city does not mandate it. She said the city leaves it up to individual employees to determine which is cheaper.

tthomas@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 197

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