Economic benefits and taxpayer relief are two reasons why the Cumberland County Improvement Authority (CCIA) in New Jersey has moved toward sharing fleet maintenance with additional Cumberland County departments and other municipalities. Shared fleet maintenance services have become more widespread in New Jersey in recent years, according to the CCIA.
When several fleets team up to get their maintenance centrally performed, sharing expenses such as facilities and labor decreases the cost to each sharing entity.
Shared Services Include Engine Repairs, Diagnostics
CCIA has 10 to 12 current shared services customers in New Jersey. Services CCIA performs for its partners include anything related to fleet management services. The authority also maintains and repairs police cars, sheriff’s vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, and any other vehicles that operate within the county.
One of its customers is the Vineland Board of Education. “They have an existing fleet department and fleet staff, so we supplement their staff,” said Gerard Velazquez III, president and CEO of CCIA. “They bring us the vehicles that were going to private entities that they couldn’t handle in house.”
CCIA performs the same work for the City of Vineland’s fire trucks and ambulances, Deerfield Township’s dump trucks and fire trucks, and Cape May City’s tractor-trailers, cars, and other heavy equipment.
CCIA’s work in sharing fleet services led to an opportunity to gain access to parts and supplies at a reduced rate. The authority also charges about $52.50 to $53 per hour for the work it performs, which is much less than those partner entities previously paid.
One Obvious Advantage — and a Disadvantage
What are some advantages and disadvantages of shared services agreements?
“The most obvious advantage is cost,” Velazquez said. “I think No. 2 would be quality. Because we are fixing the vehicles, we obviously are a public entity, and we have a different attention to detail and responsibility to make sure we’re repairing these vehicles as if they are our own, because they are, indirectly.”
One disadvantage of shared services agreements is that some fleet staff members for the municipalities that share fleet services with Cumberland County fear they will lose their jobs.
But municipalities should not consider CCIA to be a threat, Velazquez said. CCIA’s purpose is to supplement and support staff, rather than replace.
“We’re just supplementing what the municipalities and county can’t handle directly through their own staff,” he said. “Certainly in government, change is not always welcome, so that’s part of the problem … Sometimes folks view us as the evil twin brother that’s trying to take over the world, when in fact, we’re really just trying to make it more efficient and effective.”
Newest Member Shares Recycling Services, CNG Stations
The Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) is in a county near Cumberland and is the newest CCIA shared services customer, joining in January. ACUA is providing waste and recycling collection services for the City of Vineland, a contract that required a separate vehicle repair location. ACUA turned to the CCIA to provide this service.
“The Vineland trash and recycling collection contract required us to have a remote location away from the main facility in Atlantic County,” said Rick Dovey, ACUA president. “We worked out a shared services arrangement with the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, which operates the landfill and composting and recycling center for Cumberland County. And we’re sharing office space, locker room space, and also they’re providing fuel services and fleet maintenance for our 11 trash recycling trucks that we have assigned to that location.”
“We’re going to build upon this relationship … trying to make the most effective and efficient use of our shared services that we can in the county,” said Velazquez of CCIA.