City Rebuttal to Local Mullet Wrapper Editorial

Managing a cost effective and efficient fleet management program
“I feel compelled to provide a response to the Editorial in the November 14, 2008, edition entitled ‚ÄúCity Hall puts pedal to metal‚Äù in which the Editor once again fails to provide any facts only opinion to support his biased and slanted conclusions. My objective with this response is to inform and educate the City‚Äôs residents about our Fleet Maintenance Program and how and what we are doing to wisely manage those particular resources. I will not spend any time or space responding to the Editor‚Äôs personal attacks or opinions about me or other City officials, or espousing the virtues of local government emulating the private sector in regards to fleet management.

The City of Fernandina Beach owns and maintains a vehicular fleet. With replacement cost of several million dollars, it is of the utmost importance to purchase, maintain, and dispose of vehicles in a planned and efficient manner. A scheduled replacement program for vehicles & equipment did not exist in prior administrations. Purchasing was not standardized. The
disposal methods of the City fleet resulted in little to no return on investment. The disbursement of new vehicles was unfair. Some departments were granted “wants” and others were denied “needs”. The City began its fleet maintenance program in 2005 and at that time had 260 vehicles and pieces of equipment in the fleet. The fleet consists of cars and trucks which account for about 50%, trailers, mowers and small tractors is about 38%, and the remaining 12% is heavy duty trucks and equipment.

Each and every year, we have closely analyzed and scrutinized our service delivery methods and
proactively reduced the size of the fleet, which now stands at 238. We have removed vehicles from service that were minimally used, we replaced large trucks and SUVs with smaller and more efficient units, and we have purchased 4 electric vehicles. The reduction in the size of the City’s fleet has reduced the amount of resources annually spent on auto insurance, gasoline, and preventative maintenance costs. The City also utilizes biodiesel which further reduces fuel costs and it is cleaner for the environment.

In the 2004/2005 fiscal year the City of Fernandina Beach budgeted spent over one million dollars to purchase vehicles & equipment. In this fiscal year we budgeted $493,500. This appropriation covers the replacement of 22 units which are prioritized based upon current vehicle condition, factory production schedule, and departmental revenue flows. The proposed purchase of these units will be grouped in four separate purchases. The City then disposes of the surplus vehicles by several means including auction, bid, or internet sites such as EBay. The City’s efforts in selling our surplus vehicles utilizing electronic means has increased revenue for these fleet units by over 400% from previous methods.
The City has a loaner pool of former police vehicles with current mileages ranging from 87,000-101,000 which are used by City employees for transportation to meetings, continuing education, and conferences. The use of the loaner pool vehicle is much more cost effective than providing each and every employee mileage reimbursement per the statutory rate at 44.5 cents per mile. The vehicle that is currently assigned to the City Manager will be reassigned to the loaner pool and will provide a quality, reliable, and safe vehicle for City employee use. This vehicle will replace a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria. City Managers are expected and required to respond to any and all events and emergencies and therefore are provided a vehicle or vehicle allowance per an employment agreement. I chose a City provided vehicle, which is a taxable benefit. The Nassau County Coordinator receives a $500 per month car allowance, a fact the Editor conveniently withheld from his editorial.

The City of Fernandina Beach, like most other municipalities, vehicles are purchased under a State of Florida cooperative bid process. All dealerships are invited to participate. The cooperative bid insures that municipalities receive the best pricing available. The City of Fernandina Beach has continually offered local dealership(s) the opportunity to compete with state contract pricing in an effort to keep business local. In this case, the local dealers could not match or come close to the awarded bid price. City officials keenly understand the need to spend tax dollars wisely and to the lowest and best bidder.

It is my sincerest hope that I have shown that everything isn‚Äôt always as it appears in the pages of the paper. Finally, I would like to acknowledge and thank the City‚Äôs Fleet Maintenance Superintendent, Mr. Jeremiah Glisson, who effectively manages our fleet and has championed many of the best practices in the department. He also contributed to this article.”

Found as a Press Release on the City of Fernandina Beach’s Web Site www.fbfl.us

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