Government Fleet Top News

Wichita Rejects Fleet Outsourcing Contract

December 27, 2006

WICHITA, KS -- Wichita may someday hire a private company to manage its troubled fleet maintenance operations, but the 60 or so workers in the department will remain city employees, according to The Wichita Eagle. That was the message Wichita City Council members sent Dec. 26 when they denied CH2M Hill OMI and Kelley Fleet Services a two-year contract that would have outsourced repair of most city vehicles and equipment.

That was the message Wichita City Council members sent Dec. 26 when they denied CH2M Hill OMI and Kelley Fleet Services a two-year contract that would have outsourced repair of most city vehicles and equipment.

With about 20 fleet workers in the council chambers, council members questioned why so many problems in the department identified in 2001 have still not been fixed, and the members said they couldn't support a deal that would lead to city fleet workers losing some retirement pay.

Mayor Carlos Mayans said that privatizing fleet maintenance would lead other city employees to wonder whether their departments might be privatized, and could hurt morale.

The move to privatize the fleet maintenance division, which services city equipment and manages fuel, comes five years after a consultant told the city the department, was inefficient.

Although they didn't approve an OMI/Kelley deal, they approved spending nearly $300,000 to reconfigure the shop and to buy the diagnostic equipment that employees say they've been seeking for years.

Council member Paul Gray said there was no clear-cut choice. Private companies tend to be more efficient and cheaper than government, but, since the city has operated its fleet department for years, it should try to make changes that fleet workers, consultants and city officials agree are needed.

On Gray's motion, the council unanimously agreed to continue talks about private management that would keep city fleet workers on the city's payroll and, therefore, save retirement benefits for workers.

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