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Maintaining the fleet

Policy could save county thousands

POSTED: March 4, 2009 4:00 a.m.
Photo/Michele Hester/

Stevie Harben checks the oil in a 1999 F-150 pickup used by Dawson County's road department. If a proposed policy change presented to the board of commissioners is approved, Harben would perform 90 percent of the maintenance to county vehicles, which could save the county more than $500,000 over a six year period.

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A change in several policies could help Dawson County keep track of its 131 vehicles.

  

The county currently has no way to determine who drives which vehicle, its mileage or scheduled maintenance.

  

County Manager Kevin Tanner said the change could solve the problem and save the county thousands of dollars each year.

  

Tanner presented the findings to the county commission Thursday and plans to revisit the issue during the board’s March 12 work session.

  

Last summer, Tanner organized a committee to address issues related to county vehicles, which are driven by emergency services, the sheriff’s office, public works and the county administration team.

  

He also asked the committee to evaluate the current lease program for vehicles and develop policies and procedures for their use. The group also examined maintenance records and identified a management system to track the cost associated with the vehicles.

  

“In any government, vehicles represent a substantial financial investment and are an area of high liability for the entity,” he said Thursday. “It is imperative that we have adequate policies and procedures that govern the use of these vehicles.”

  

Tanner said the cost to maintain the fleet exceeds $200,000 annually, with each vehicle’s maintenance costing taxpayers $1,768 a year.

  

The new policies would improve the overall vehicle fleet and “save taxpayer money as we move forward as a county,” he said.

  

The proposed new policy would replace vehicles based on age and mileage, as well as create a procedure for scheduled maintenance, much of which could be performed in house.

  

“Stevie Harben, who is on our public works staff, ran a garage for many years here in Dawsonville, and would be able to perform much of the maintenance we need for these vehicles,” Tanner said.

  

He said Harben currently manages the county’s fleet of trucks for the road department.

  

The county would need to invest about $30,000 for equipment to bring the vehicle maintenance in house, but Tanner said the savings in the long run could be significant, about $560,000 over six years.

  

Under Tanner’s proposal, a fleet manager would be responsible for maintaining all data on county-owned vehicles, which would identify when vehicles would receive maintenance and when the vehicle should be replaced.

  

The presentation to the board also addressed an issue of space for the road department, which is currently housed in a building located on Hwy. 9, west of Dawsonville.

  

Tanner wants the board to lease or purchase a modular building to be put at the transfer station on Burt Creek Road, which would give the in house mechanic a suitable working area.

  

Tanner said funding for that portion of the project could come from the county’s solid waste funds.

  

Commission Chairman Mike Berg reiterated the county is facing difficult economic times, like the rest of the country, and it may not be the time to be spending money in the hopes of future savings.

  

Tanner said he understands the economy has had an effect on budgetary issues, but also said if the county chooses to do nothing, “We’ll continue to spend on finance and maintenance charges and continue to have a dilapidated fleet.”

  

The commission determined that the proposal brought a lot of information to the table and additional time was needed to absorb the presented information.

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

 

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