Government Fleet Top News

Winnebago County Balks at $90 Oil Changes

June 29, 2005

ROCKFORD, IL - Winnebago County officials are asking why the county is paying the city of Rockford $90 every time a county vehicle gets an oil change at the garage in the downtown Public Safety Building, according to the Rockford Register Star newspaper."I can't answer that other than to say that's been going on long before I've been here," County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen told the newspaper. "Obviously, that's way out of line." County officials and board members want to revisit a 1985 deal between the county and the city that lets city crews service 102 county vehicles with oil changes, vehicle inspections, and maintenance. The inspection and maintenance sessions can last up to 90 minutes. The city charges $62 an hour, the prevailing wage required by state statute on these types of intergovernmental agreements. The County Board is considering breaking the deal and sending the fleet nearly three miles for service at the county Highway Department. There, the same service will cost $27 a car. Christiansen said the 20-year-old arrangement was probably made for convenience, given that the cars are already downtown. The county has to give the city six months' notice to terminate the deal, so taxpayers will pay the $90 fee until the end of the year, reported the Rockford Register Star. “That's where my money goes? What's wrong with those people? That's amazing,” said John Vant, director of operations at LubePro's 10 Minute Oil Change Service Centers. Vant said his company could give the county a fleet account that offers a 15 percent discount on a $29.99 oil change, reducing the cost to $25.49. County Purchasing Director Sally Claassen said the county should avoid private shops where it's first-come, first-served. She said the job can get done at the county Highway Department for nearly the same cost as a private garage. Highway Department workers also can fix problems immediately upon inspection. “And we have weapons, live computers, and defibrillators in those sheriff's squads that we can't leave unattended,” Claassen said. The bulk of the county oil changes are for the 60 Sheriff's Department cruisers. Each car receives an oil change about once a month. In 2004, the city garage changed the oil in the cruisers 715 times, a $64,350 bill. The cost would drop to $19,305 at the Highway Department, an annual savings of $45,045, according to county figures. The other 42 county vehicles serviced downtown include two state's attorney's cars, two building maintenance vehicles, 18 employee pool cars, and 20 Sheriff's Department vehicles, reported the Rockford Register Star. If those 42 vehicles received oil changes every three months, the annual cost would be $15,120 at the city garage compared with $4,536 at the county Highway Department.

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