MANCHESTER, NH - After asking Manchester, N.H., city department heads to whittle down the number of employees taking home city vehicles, Mayor Ted Gatsas slashed the number further, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The number of take-home vehicles shrank from 51 to 43 after Gatsas last month asked department heads to look at every vehicle, how often it was being used during overnight hours, and whether taking it home was absolutely necessary. Gatsas told them this week he didn't think the cuts went far enough and reduced the take-home fleet to 19.

"My expectation was 19 (vehicles). I was hoping they would do it," said Gatsas.

He especially took issue with on-call staffers taking vehicles home every night.

"There's no reason why six people on call on a rotating basis need to take a vehicle home on a night they're not on call," said Gatsas.

Fire Department Chief James Burkush said although his department was listed as having eight take-home vehicles, not all of them went home with employees every night. The department's inspectors and mechanics, who would rotate nights they would respond to emergencies, were taking their vehicles home only on nights they were on call, Burkush said.

Gatsas cut the number of take-home vehicles in the Fire Department to four, but Burkush said this would not cause any major change.

Those employees who will continue to take home a vehicle include Burkush, the dog handler and Fire Department mechanics, who are on call in case a fire truck breaks down after hours. As for the other employees, Burkush said, they will drive to the station, pick up the city vehicle they need and respond to a call from there.

According to the mayor's office, sharing on-call take-home vehicles will also become policy at Water Works.

Gatsas said it's hard to calculate how much money will be saved, but fewer vehicles going home means using less city gas and less wear and tear on city vehicles.

The Highway Department also saw big cuts, going from seven take-home vehicles to two.

Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard said most take-home vehicles have been for responding to off-hours emergencies such as a water main break that damages a road. In such a case, an inspector would be called in to make sure the road was repaired properly.

"People will just have to come into the yard to get their city vehicle when they get called in," said Sheppard. "It may delay response some, but I don't think it will be a problem at this time."

Sheppard said for more urgent emergencies, such as a sinkhole in a city street, the street superintendent would need a take-home vehicle to respond quickly, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.