With estimated vehicle costs for the state's fleet totaling more than $30 million in the current fiscal year, the state of Iowa is considering all cost-cutting measures, according to the Des Moines Register.
Total estimated vehicle costs for the state's 3,000-plus fleet are $21 million in the current fiscal year - nearly $9 million for maintenance and $12 million for nonmaintenance expenses, which include vehicle purchases and insurance, according to the Department of Administrative Services.
Rep. Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, who has argued that many of the state's vehicles sit unused for much of the year, offered a provision in a budget bill in the 2009 session to defer vehicle purchases for 16 months. The proposal excluded emergency vehicle purchases and would have allowed for exceptions when purchasing is less costly than alternatives. Democrats rejected the proposal because they said more time was needed to study the issue. Some Democrats have said the idea has possibilities and will be further considered in the legislative session that begins in January, according to the Register.
A 16-month deferral during a typical year could save the state $9 million to $12 million upfront but could cost more in the long run in maintenance costs, according to administrative services officials. The key is striking the appropriate balance, both Republicans and Democrats acknowledge, reported the Register.
Other ideas include leasing vehicles as needed for state business and reimbursement on personal vehicles. Leasing may, however, boost taxpayer costs, according to a 2007 Legislative Services Agency study. A separate study by the administrative services department shows that owning rather than leasing saves Iowa nearly $1.2 million a year when considering the five most common vehicle types, reported the Register.
For personal vehicles and reimbursement, the state may end up spending roughly $3.4 million more a year, based on the 22.5 million miles state employees drove in passenger vehicles in the last fiscal year. However, under that scenario, the state wouldn't purchase passenger vehicles, which cost the state roughly $2.3 million in the last fiscal year, according to the Register.
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