SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego could potentially save more than $500,000 annually by limiting the number of police, fire and other city vehicles regularly taken home by employees, according to an audit released Wednesday.
The city pays $2.1 million a year just for commute miles driven by 347 city workers to and from home, City Auditor Eduardo Luna said.
The San Diego Police Department accounts for 277 take-home vehicles, and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department has 48. Other departments, such as public utilities and public works, account for the rest.
Employees who might be called out in the middle of the night or have special skills are allowed to drive their vehicles home, but Luna said after-hours call-outs are rare.
The city should keep 76 of those police and fire vehicles in quarters to save $569,000 annually, Luna said.
Officials should also study whether take-home privileges should be removed for an additional 23 cars, he said. He said elimination of those could save an additional $149,000 per year.
The audit also found that:
-- firefighters used city gas cards too frequently at private filling stations when less expensive city fuel facilities were nearby;
-- the city lacks effective internal controls over take-home vehicles; and
-- the city might not have reported the take-home vehicles as a taxable fringe benefit to the Internal Revenue Service.
City officials, including police Chief William Lansdowne and fire Chief Javier Mainar, at least partially agreed with all 15 recommendations in the audit, including:
-- establishing maximum distance and expected response times for take-home vehicles;
-- eliminating vehicle take-home privileges for employees not regularly needed for emergency responses;
-- annually reviewing take-home vehicle policy; and
-- calculating whether the cost savings of eliminating take-home vehicles is worth the risk of longer response times.
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