BRIDGEPORT, CT - Thirty-five fewer city employees have take-home vehicles than a year ago, according to Mayor Bill Finch, reported in the Bridgeport News.

Finch said the city has reduced the number of vehicles that employees take home at night by more than 43 percent since he took office in December 2007. Some of the surplus vehicles could go up for auction soon at municipal car auctions planned in March and April. Also, as a part of the mayor’s new policy, no additional take-home cars will be purchased by the city.

Most of the remaining workers with city vehicles are in the police and fire departments. The mayor also gets a city vehicle. By the start of fiscal year 2009-10, which begins July 1, Finch said the city should limit its take-home vehicle fleet to only those employees who are on call 24 hours a day.

The size of the municipal fleet has been an issue in recent years, as Bridgeport has tried to cut expenses to hold down taxes and prevent budget deficits. Finch said having a smaller fleet will save the city money.

“Shedding the city of older, inefficient vehicles, and reducing the number of cars that employees use around-the-clock — effectively having the city pay for their transportation to and from home — will save the city approximately $150,000 a year in taxes, fees and upkeep,” he said.

The city has nearly 400 vehicles, with most of them being service vehicles used in the police, fire and public works departments.

The use of take-home vehicles has been the subject of collective bargaining agreements through the years in Bridgeport, with some workers guaranteed the use of city cars around-the-clock by their contracts. The recent round of labor contract negotiations, beginning with police union and then moving on to some other municipal employee unions, has led to the reduction of take-home vehicle cars and privileges.