PHOENIX – Facing an estimated $138.2 million shortfall next year, Maricopa County leaders are tightening up their policies on take-home vehicles, according to the Arizona Republic. Officials hope to reap savings and centralize the process for assigning vehicles to employees.
A preliminary audit of the county's vehicle fleet revealed at least 309 workers and sheriff's deputies are allowed to take home government cars nightly, reported the Arizona Republic. Fuel is paid for through purchase cards or county fuel stations.
In February, the Board of Supervisors directed top managers to audit the county's use of overnight vehicles. Budget officials asked all county departments to report the number of vehicles assigned to the department, individual employees, details about the vehicles, average annual mileage, and vehicle utilization.
The county's fleet is made up of 1,906 passenger vehicles that range from subcompact cars to full-size SUVs, motorcycles, vans and buses. The count does not include construction vehicles.
The agency with the most vehicles is the Sheriff's Office, at 578; about 200 employees have permission to take those vehicles home to respond to calls or emergencies, said Loretta Barkell, the sheriff's chief of business operations, according to the Arizona Republic.
According to the audit, Air Quality employees working primarily offsite use 134 vehicles. Facilities Management has 91 vehicles, and 32 employees who are on call to respond to emergency repairs at county facilities have overnight permits. The County Attorney's Office, meanwhile, has 72 vehicles and 64 employees who have permission to take them home.
Over the summer, officials will compile a complete list of the names of employees who take the vehicles homes to make sure the reasons are justified. By September, a new policy requiring the board of supervisors to approve the use of take-home cars for each employee could be implemented, reported the Arizona Republic.