WAILUKU, HI - The county has about one vehicle for every two employees and owns an estimated 350 small vehicles that are more than 10 years old, according to a review by the Cost of Government Commission, reported The Maui News.
The commission suggested that the county could save millions by purging old vehicles, improving maintenance and management, and reducing the overall size of its fleet. But it acknowledged that, due to a lack of complete record keeping, not enough data was available to do more than estimate the county's actual vehicle costs and potential savings.
The commission's 2009-10 report on its findings and recommendations was recently posted online.
The county's fleet totals 1,268 vehicles, according to the commission report. Of that amount, 1,132 are small vehicles like cars, pickup trucks and vans.
While the Maui Police Department was able to provide current mileage information for all of its vehicles, the county Finance Department, which is tasked with maintaining records on the rest of the county's fleet, could provide the mileage for only a few vehicles, according to the report.
Finance was able to provide model year information on about half the county's fleet. Based on the data provided, the commission estimated that around 100 small vehicles were between 10 and 15 years old, and another 250 were more than 15 years old.
Other findings of the report include:
- The county's Fiscal Implementation Team - which includes the managing director, finance director and budget director - now reviews and approves all new vehicle purchases.
- While the Maui County Energy Alliance has recommended that the county require all new vehicles be fuel-efficient, the county has not yet set a fuel-efficiency standard for its fleet.
- The county doesn't have a standard policy for when vehicles should be replaced. Instead, various county departments handle replacements on their own.
- The only way to collect information on the county's fleet is to contact each department individually.
"It is not functional or reasonable to suggest that accurate fleet data can only be obtained in such a piecemeal fashion," the report says.
Commissioners made no findings about the abuse of take-home vehicles by county employees. But they found that it's "probable" a number of circumstances exist in Maui County that would create the potential for abuse, such as vague policies, lack of centralized control, a relative surplus of vehicles, financially stressed employees and "reluctance on the part of senior management to address abuses because of concerns about 'past practice' issues that might be raised by the union."
The commission proposed a two-year "comprehensive vehicle control and cost-reduction plan," and estimated that it could save the county up to $24.3 million.
- In the first year, retiring all small vehicles more than 15 years old or with more than 125,000 miles.
- In the second year, retiring small vehicles over 10 years old or with more than 100,000 miles.
- Freezing the purchase of new vehicles and postponing the replacement of retired vehicles for at least two years.
- Identifying underused vehicles for possible transfer to other departments.
- Postponing replacement of large vehicles like sanitation trucks or fire engines for two years.
- Establishing a standard vehicle replacement policy.
- Creating a centralized record-keeping system for the county fleet.
- Improving oversight of take-home vehicles to prevent abuse.
- Hiring a full- or part-time employee to oversee vehicle management.
Morrison said she would like to see the county establish an office or division responsible for managing all vehicles outside of fire and police; so records, maintenance and replacement all could be handled in one place.
Currently, the Finance Department maintains records for insurance purposes, the Purchasing Division keeps other information, and individual departments track data like maintenance and mileage for their vehicles, reported The Maui News.