WICHITA, KS -- Just a few months after an international company appeared poised to take over the city of Wichita's fleet maintenance department, it has backed out and two new companies have stepped in, according to the Wichita Eagle newspaper.

But several fleet employees privately say they believe the deal could lead to delayed repairs of the city's police cars, snow plows and lawn mowers, and would reduce their retirement benefits.

Under a proposal that the City Council will consider CH2M Hill OMI to pair with Kelley Fleet Services to manage and operate the 60-person department, which is responsible for fixing city vehicles and managing the fuel supply for the city's fleet.

Chris Carrier, director of the city's Department of Public Works, which oversees the fleet maintenance department, said a professional management group could bring hard-to-find expertise that could speed up repairs and more aggressively replace equipment before it starts breaking down.

Some fleet employees and city officials differ on what privatization will do.

But they agree that the efficiency of repairs to city vehicles is at stake, and that it could affect everything from police and fire service to mowing grass at city parks if the vehicles or tools are stuck in the shop.

The private management and operation proposal comes after more than a year of what the city has described as a bad working environment that resulted in lagging repairs to city equipment and poor customer service, according to the Wichita Eagle.