Study finds city can reduce vehicles without loss of emergency r - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Study finds city can reduce vehicles without loss of emergency response

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego would save nearly $570,000 annually by reducing the number of vehicles city employees take home by 76, according to a City Auditor's report presented to City Council Monday.

The city has a fleet of about 4,200 vehicles, including police and fire vehicles. The city assigned 347 vehicles to employees to take home, including 277 from the San Diego Police Department and 48 from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, to be used for after-hours emergencies, according to the report.

"We can't predict when the next earthquake or the next blackout or the next emergency or critical incident is going to happen," Assistant Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said. "It could be at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning and our responsibility is to be mission-ready."

The audit noted some of the vehicles had been assigned to employees without clearly defined response time expectations and those who rarely respond to emergency calls at all, the report stated. During 2010, take-home vehicles logged 2.5 million commute-only miles at an estimated annual cost of $2.1 million.

"The cost to the city taxpayers for fleet management and maintenance is staggering. If we add up all costs we could run an entire library system with the amount of money we're spending on vehicles," said City Councilman Carl DeMaio.

The City Auditor's Office found that reducing the number of take-home vehicles by 76 would save an estimated $569,000 per year, while still maintaining the city's ability to respond to emergencies.

"I'm really looking forward to having at least $570,000 translated into actual public safety," said Councilwoman Lorie Zapf.

The audit also found that the city does not have procedures in place to review fuel card information and the city may not have reported personal use of some vehicles as a taxable fringe benefit on employees' W-2 forms.

The audit recommended establishing guidelines for commute distances, and maintaining an accurate records on the emergency call backs.

The council voted unanimously to accept the report's findings and the next step in the process will be for city officials to negotiate with labor unions before the plan can be implemented.

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