ST. CLAIR, MI - Saving $250,000 annually is just one of the benefits St. Clair County expects from outsourcing its vehicle maintenance operations, according to Kirk Weston, managing director of the St. Clair County Road Commission, as reported by The Detroit News.

The St. Clair County Road Commission awarded a three-year contract to First Vehicle Services (FVS), a contract fleet maintenance and management services provider, at the end of March.

"While privatization often raises concern for job security and employee compensation, at St. Clair County we were able to show the benefits of this change and in the end were able to create new, well-paying positions while retaining all of our current personnel," said Weston.

According to Weston, the Road Commission spends about $1 million yearly to operate its shop, which fixes vehicles and equipment including snowplows and street graders. It also spends about $450,000 a year on parts.

The agreement combines vehicle management for the county, including the Sheriff's Department, the airport and parks and recreation departments, with the county Road Commission fleet. Close to 500 vehicles and pieces of equipment will now be serviced through one combined vehicle maintenance operation, Weston said.

"Proactively investigating options like privatization can help to bring costs in line while continuing to provide services and employment for the community," he added.

In addition to the projected savings, the privatization of vehicle maintenance will increase jobs, reduce the budget, and streamline operations throughout the county," said Weston.

"We hope that more municipalities will see the benefits to be gained by privatizing these services and we welcome additional fleets partnering with the St. Clair County Road Commission," said Weston.