MOBILE, AL - Cutting take-home vehicles is one cost-saving measure Mobile Mayor Sam Jones is considering as a way to deal with the fiscal year's $18.5 million budget shortfall, according to Lagniappe Magazine.

Jones was quoted by Lagniappe Magazine as saying he will look to tighten the city's proverbial budgetary belt even further in non-essential areas such as city-owned take-home cars.

The city of Mobile owns 1,085 vehicles total, according to numbers provided by the mayor's office. The ratio of city employees to city-owned cars is nearly 2-to-1.

City officials were unable to determine how many of the vehicles were authorized for take-home use, because, they said, each department has its own policy on take-home cars.

Among the Mobile Police and Fire Departments alone, the city owns roughly 600 vehicles used for take-home purposes. Chief of Police Michael Tyrone Williams offered an estimate of 540 cars - about one per patrol officer - being used for take-home purposes.

Fire Department Chief Stephen Dean said his employees utilize 60 vehicles for take-home purposes, but only 10 of those employees have clearance for personal use because they are on-call. The others are strictly for driving to and from work, he said. Those 10 employees include Dean, assistant chiefs, the department chaplain, a public information officer, and deputies, the chief said.

A new policy being considered and analyzed for next year, Jones said, would target eliminating all strictly "personal" uses for city employees using city-owned take-home vehicles.

The city is also considering a possible ban on using take-home patrol cars at second jobs, reported Lagniappe Magazine.