Riverside County Cost Reductions Impact Vehicle Policy

April 16, 2009

RIVERSIDE, CA – Among the cost-cutting measures recently reviewed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors was a proposal to revise the county's take-home vehicle policy, according to the Valley News. Roughly 20,000 people work in county government — the single largest employer in Riverside County.

Capping employment was one of two dozen proposals introduced by board Chairman Jeff Stone in February, under a plan he dubbed SCRAPE (Safeguard County of Riverside Against Preventable Expenses). The county Executive Office studied the plan and reported back on what cost-saving measures might be feasible.

One of the most talked-about items was a proposal to revise the county's take-home vehicle policy, which permits selected employees to retain county-owned or leased cars for business.

According to the Executive Office, nearly 1,000 employees - one in five - are assigned take-home vehicles. Luna told the board the Executive Office will bring forward proposed revisions to the county's vehicle policy by the end of June, with an emphasis on scaling back overnight vehicle retention.

Changes to the county's Executive Vehicle Policy were also recommended.

Under current guidelines, supervisors and department heads have the option of either taking a $550-a-month stipend, plus reimbursement for work-related mileage, to drive their own cars or take home a county-purchased auto that is fueled, maintained and insured by the county.

According to the Executive Office, county executives can request a vehicle and county Fleet Services will procure one, generally limiting purchases to a maximum $50,000.

The Executive Office reported that reducing the stock of county-owned vehicles would produce savings, making it necessary to increase the monthly reimbursement rates to levels comparable to neighboring counties, such as Los Angeles County, which offers a $620-a-month stipend to supervisors and county executives who use their own cars.

Supervisor John Tavaglione said he intends to surrender his county-owned hybrid sedan after he has negotiated the purchase of his own.

Stone said a comparative analysis showed his use of a county-owned car would be less expensive than taking the stipend and driving his vehicle.

"I would gladly do whatever it takes to save the county money," Stone said. "But I'm going to submit that it's much less expensive for the county to provide me the car that I have."

Among SCRAPE recommendations the board endorsed was greater reliance by county departments on video conferencing, reducing the need for travel.  


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