Maintenance

Fleet Consolidation: When 1 Operation is Better than 2 — or More

October 2013, Government Fleet - Cover Story

by Barbara Bonansinga

At A Glance:

Fleet consolidation can result in the following benefits:

  • Eliminate redundancies in shops and shop equipment
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Allow for better control of assets
  • Improve staff communication
  • Equalize pay for workers performing the same tasks.

The City of Springfield, Ill., is in the process of consolidating the Police, Public Works, Fire, and City Water, Light & Power fleets to one facility.
The City of Springfield, Ill., is in the process of consolidating the Police, Public Works, Fire, and City Water, Light & Power fleets to one facility.

Industry consulting experts often advise in favor of centralized approaches to fleet management, citing that reducing the number of variables in a fleet’s organizational structure can lead to lower costs and greater operational efficiency. It can also free up redundant resources for other initiatives.

The cities of Louisville, Ky., and Springfield, Ill., are proponents of the consolidation concept. In Louisville, the City merged with Jefferson County government in 2003, promoting the later consolidation of fleet services. Springfield more recently started on a consolidation process in an effort to improve efficiency. While these two fleets are at various steps in the process, the reasons Louisville and Springfield are headed down this path are similar, and both have experienced or are expecting savings and improved efficiencies.

A Merger of Governments

While a merger of fleets within a government entity is more common, Louisville undertook a consolidation of two government entities. The Louisville-Jefferson County Local Government Consolidation combined city and county government with the intent of reducing duplicate operations across agencies overall.

The consolidation of government entities can be a controversial proposition. Human nature dictates there will be resistance to change, power sharing, potentially reduced funding levels, and generally having less autonomy — all of these possibilities may accompany consolidation initiatives. It took more than 40 years for the citizens of Jefferson County to vote to agree to the merger with the City of Louisville. Finally, in 2003, Louisville became the largest U.S. city in almost three decades to merge with county government; the result is the Louisville-­Jefferson County Metro Government, also known as Louisville Metro.

Before consolidation, the City of Louisville encompassed an area covering about 60 square miles with a population of 256,000. In comparison, Louiville Metro encompasses an area of 386 square miles serving a combined population of approximately 700,000.

Louisville Metro’s current fleet consists of less than 3,600 units.
Louisville Metro’s current fleet consists of less than 3,600 units.

The governmental merger led to its maintenance facility merger in 2010. Although officials discussed facility consolidation years earlier, they chose not to move ahead until they could identify a fleet facility that could fit the new fleet’s needs. Matthew Maskey, Louisville Metro fleet administrator said, “A cost study indicated that the two fleets should be joined into one. Inconsistencies such as mechanics in two different city or county fleet facilities having different work responsibilities and compensation required attention.”

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