GRANITE BAY, CA – Placer County is tightening up rules on the use of its 153-vehicle fleet driven home at night, according to Gold Country News Service.

New policy developed by the County Executive Office includes reduction in the number of SUVs used as take-home vehicles, attaching prominent county markings, and buying more fuel-efficient models.

Day use will also be limited, requiring employees to establish a 500-600 mile monthly minimum before being assigned a vehicle.

The Board of Supervisors agreed to staff's fleet-use recommendations. Four of the five - Robert Weygandt, Kirk Uhler, Jim Holmes, and Rocky Rockholm - drive county vehicles home at night, three of which are SUVs.

The CEO's office was directed to come back to the board at a future meeting with amendments to the county code to reflect changes in policy expected to save the county $443,000 next year through more prudent vehicle use.

CEO Tom Miller said the annual savings would be on top of $200,000 already shaved from the budget late last year during a previous round of cuts.

While supervisors voted without discussion to move forward on the policy amendments to the county code, Miller defended the use of take-home vehicles by board members, saying the public expects them to always be available.

Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, who drives her own Honda CRV, is the lone board member not driving a county-owned vehicle.

Bekki Riggan, management analyst with the CEO's office, who said the new rules were developed to provide more financially prudent policies in the face of the county's current economic challenges, presented an estimate that the cost of CEO's office and Board of Supervisors vehicles would drop from a budgeted $128,168 next year to $86,570.

The amount spent annually for all vehicles with the CEO's Office and Board of Supervisors had risen from $57,575 in 2004-05 to a high of $134,435 in 2007-08.

The county sheriff's total expenses for vehicles had risen during the same time from $1.5 million to $2.61 million. For the county as a whole, vehicle costs rose from $3.34 to $5.85 million.