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Some Philadelphia Employees May Lose Work Cars In Cost-Cutting Plan

December 29, 2003

About 400 city employees in Philadelphia might soon have to find another way to get to work under a cost-cutting proposal called the Fleet Reduction Project that would force them to hand over the keys of their work vehicles, according to a report in the Associated Press.

The city, which currently maintains a fleet of about 6,500 vehicles, hopes to cut its $84 million new vehicle budget by 40 percent over the next five years, for savings of nearly $32.7 million. And officials hope to save another $12.7 million dollar in vehicle operating costs during that time. "This is a significant shift. We're saying that we're in a difficult year now, and we're serious about cutting costs," said Managing Director Philip Goldsmith, who is overseeing the fleet review. Under draft vehicle policies, only those employees who must be on call for emergencies would be allowed to take a city car home. Cars driven fewer than 8,000 miles per year will be dropped from the fleet, the proposed policy says. Goldsmith said the city was looking at a vehicle-allowance program, which would provide stipends to employees to use their personal cars for work, as well as an automated system allowing authorized employees access a car from a motor pool in a Center City lot. Goldsmith acknowledged that the policy change could ruffle some feathers at City Hall, where a city-issued vehicle is a prized perk. "People live and die here for their vehicles and the type of vehicles they have," he said. But officials said that Philadelphia must halt the hemorrhaging of its surplus fund, projected to end the fiscal year in June at $5.4 million — down from $295 million in 2000. The city also hopes to save $275,000 through 2008 by shrinking the decals on police cruisers, garbage trucks and other vehicles. Officials also plan to save about $285,000 by switching an order for 50 new police cruisers from Ford Crown Victorias to Chevrolet Impalas.

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