MIAMI – Miami-Dade County's Mayor Carlos Gimenez recently explained how it is using, and plans to use, the vehicle inventory at a fleet facility after news reports came out saying the County had a number of "unused" fleet vehicles in storage.

The mayor's letter explains the County purchased new vehicles in 2006, reduced its fleet size after a 2007 study, and increased the mileage replacement criteria for its vehicles, resulting in a surplus.

According to the letter, there are a total of 157 vehicles at the County’s Earlington Heights Fleet Facility. In 2007, an analysis of the fleet determined the County could reduce its fleet size, which resulted in the elimination of 731 vehicles. Since that initial reduction, the County further reduced its fleet size by 216 vehicles, according to the letter. While the fleet reduction process was underway, however, the County received 908 new vehicles it had procured in 2006.

The County also conducted a study that determined fleet vehicles could remain in service for more than 100,000 miles. Another policy in place led the County to only replace vehicles when they were considered a total loss or if they required repairs that exceeded a given vehicle’s book value.

The mayor said County staff’s intent at the time was to allocate the vehicles on an as-needed basis. The County has been maintaining all stored vehicles to operational standards, according to the letter.

The mayor's letter noted that for the majority of vehicles the warranty period did not begin until the County placed the vehicles into service, though the warranty on 61 Toyota Prius vehicles began at the date of purchase.

Overall, Gimenez said the County has taken steps to place the surplus vehicles from the 2006 purchase into service. For example, he said that since he became mayor in 2007, the Internal Services Department implemented a purchasing process that takes current inventory and replacement schedules into account, which has reduced the number of vehicles at the Earlington Heights facility from 350 to 157. Of the Prius vehicles, Gimenez ordered all but four into service in 2007.

Among the vehicles at the facility, 66 police units belong to the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD). The County is putting 37 patrol vehicles out of the 66 into service in the near future, according to Gimenez. The 29 remaining non-patrol vehicles will go into service by June 2012.

Also, out of the 157 vehicles at the facility, 57 are vans used by County departments for summer programs. The County said the vehicles have been used since 2007 and paid for themselves as of 2010 (the rental cost from a private company would have been $1,500 per month). The remaining four Prius sedans are scheduled for deployment.

A total of 30 vehicles remain that the County intends to assign as replacement vehicles on an as-needed basis. The letter also says that going forward, the County will only purchase new vehicles “when it becomes an operational necessity.”

By Greg Basich