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Audit Calls for City of Long Beach, CA, to Eliminate 427 Vehicles from City Fleet

March 15, 2004

The City of Long Beach could save $6.3 million annually by eliminating 427 vehicles, downsizing another 232 and changing the way it staffs its fleet bureau, according to a city audit reported in the March 13 edition of the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper.

The report from a city consultant and the city auditor's office recommends dozens of changes to the way the city buys, operates, and maintains its 1,877 vehicles. It suggests the city remove or eliminate an array of vehicles, including sedans, pickup trucks, minivans, motorcycles, boats, and fork lifts.

The 309-page audit was released as the city is dealing with a budget shortfall projected to top $100 million through 2006. A three-year budget-cutting plan approved by the council calls for removing 460 city vehicles to help narrow the gap, according to the newspaper.

The City of Long Beach maintains its own fleet garage and employees, who maintain and acquire the city's wide range of vehicles and equipment.

Among the study's findings:

  • City vehicles are 8.2 years old on average.
  • Eliminating 427 vehicles would save $3.25 million annually in maintenance and acquisition costs.
  • Downsizing 232 vehicles over time would save another $436,000 annually in acquisition costs.
  • A random sampling of repair orders on city sedans showed that 18 of 37 times, city mechanics took longer than industry standards to complete the job.
  • A similar sampling of repairs on light and medium-duty trucks showed that 57 of 66 times, mechanics took twice the suggested amount of time to complete the work.
  • The city's $73 hourly repair rate, which includes overhead costs such as salaries and building expenses, has been unchanged for several years with no analysis justifying the rate. The rate was the highest of 10 cities surveyed.
  • The city should create a swing shift for mechanics, so vehicles such as street sweepers can be replaced at night, reducing the need for reserve vehicles.
  • Of the 427 vehicles recommended for elimination, 100 are in Public Works, 92 are in Police, 78 are in Energy, 66 are in Parks and Recreation, and 29 are in Fire.

    The Police Department's vehicles make up about 30 percent of the city's fleet and have doubled since 1990, the report said.

    According to the Long Beach Independent Telegram, the report also recommended that more city employees receive mileage reimbursements as opposed to being provided with a city car. City regulations allow employees to drive a city car if they drive more than 500 miles per month on city business.

    The report did not make recommendations for the City Council and mayor, who are entitled to a city vehicle or a $450 monthly reimbursement. The mayor, a full-time employee, drives a city vehicle. Two of the nine city council members drive city cars.

    The report makes recommendations on both contracting "out'' fleet services, such as its stockroom, to private industry, added the Long Beach Independent Telegram.

    But auditors also suggested that the city contract "in-sourcing'' its services by offering to repair fleet vehicles from surrounding government agencies. The city could make as much as $200,000 in annual revenue if it secured contracts with local state and federal government offices, the report concluded.

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