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New SUV for Oden questioned by Williams
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Post 2 County Commissioner Doreen Williams had some questions about a vehicle requisition by Rockdale County Chairman Richard Oden.

Her concern was whether the chairman needed the "expensive" vehicle that was requested.

"I was just wondering why there were so many upgrades on this car," Williams asked the Rockdale County Finance Director Roselyn Miller during the Rockdale Board of Commissioner's work session Tuesday morning. "What was the reasoning for that?"

The vehicle in question is a 2015 Ford Expedition XLT. The large SUV costs $44,756 and was factored into the county's 2015 capital budget during last year's budget discussions.

The new vehicle would replace the 2005 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer currently driven by Oden. The 2005 Ford Expedition was purchased for $34,360 during former-County Chairman Roy Middlebrooks' tenure and has accumulated 111,864 miles on the engine.

Rockdale County Public Works Deputy Director Sue Roberts explained the new vehicle is comparable to the older model and it isn't the highest trim level available for the 2015 Expedition model, which would be the limited edition.

"He's not getting a limited. He's getting the midway," said Roberts.

The 2005 model would be passed on to the board of commissioner's office to be used by Chief of Staff Gerald Sanders and the Community Affairs department to tow their equipment when needed.

"This allows capital community affairs to not request a vehicle," said Roberts. "We're going to move this over so that's made available to them."

Post 1 County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt says he fully supports the purchase because it helps another county department and improves the image of the chairman.

"First of all, we need to make sure the chairman is looking good and representing his community as he goes from meeting to meeting in a vehicle that meets representation of Rockdale County government," Nesbitt said.

Still, Williams had some reservations about the optional equipment added, such as the XLT package, the towing package and the 4-wheel drive, which adds $17,393 to the cost of the standard vehicle.

"I'm just still not sure why we need that expensive of a car," said Williams. "The coroners have requested a new vehicle for almost $15,000 less. Unless the chairman is hauling a lot of people and needs that large of a car, I can't see why just a smaller (vehicle) won't suffice."

The Rockdale County Coroner has requested a 2015 Ford Explorer at a cost of $29,947. It will also be purchased with funds from the 2015 capital budget.

Oden defended the purchase by reiterating that this newer vehicle has the same features as the current vehicle that was purchased ten years ago.

He did take the time to thank Williams for questioning the purchase.

"Thank you Commissioner. I certainly appreciate your line of questioning. I like that and appreciate that," said Oden. "It shows the community that you are inspecting and you are looking at the things with a critical eye."

The 2015 Ford Expedition comes with a 3.5 liter, V6 Ecoboost engine, has seating for about eight adults and gets an estimated 15 miles-per-gallon in city driving and 20 mpg on the highway.