PITTSBURGH - Sharing fleet services with Allegheny County is one possible cost-saving alternative for the City of Pittsburgh, which is looking to cut down expenses by performing vehicle repairs in-house, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Rising costs for maintenance and repair of the City of Pittsburgh's 992 vehicles drove City Controller Michael Lamb on Jan. 14 to recommend that the City investigate the cost of doing its own repairs when the contract with Cincinnati-based First Vehicle Services (FVS) expires in May.

Among the most significant findings of Lamb's 50-page audit of fleet management was a 13 percent increase in costs such as salaries and wages, fringe benefits, parts and supplies, subcontractor services and capital expenses. The audit found a 47 percent increase in vehicle repairs because of accidents, abnormal use, vandalism and theft. The city spends an average of $539,000 a month on these costs, according to the audit.

Lamb suggested that when the contract expires, the city and county should enter into a shared services agreement and put the package out for bid. Scott Kunka, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's finance director agreed, saying it's something the city anticipated all along.

"We've structured this contract now so that it will expire the same time that the county's contract expires so it would enable us at that time to begin to talk to the county about a joint fleet maintenance service," he said.

Kunka said the city will request bids for the city's next vehicle maintenance operator next week. A provision to include some of the county's fleet management services will be part of the proposal, he said, according to the Tribune-Review.

The City did repairs to its own vehicles until 2005, when then-Mayor Tom Murphy signed a three-year contract with FVS. The contract was extended for two more years in 2008. FVS is currently responsible for maintaining city and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority vehicles and operating the city motor pool, reported the Tribune-Review.