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City Officials Seek Ways To Save Money On Take-Home Vehicles

The police and fire departments want to take emergency

response times into account when deciding whether employees can take home

city-owned vehicles, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Javier Mainar said


Using different criteria could mean the savings from having fewer take-

home vehicles in the city's fleet would be different than the $569,000 annually

listed in a recent City Auditor's report, Mainar said at a meeting of the City

Council's Audit Committee.

The audit recommends keeping 76 vehicles in quarters, with savings from

lower maintenance costs associated with less wear-and-tear on the vehicles. The

report took into account the length of an employee's commute and the frequency

that he or she is called to an emergency while off-duty.

Mainar said the critical issue was the affected worker's response time,

and how much longer it would be if he or she had to drive to a station to get

their equipment.

"They have to be response-ready,'' Mainar said.

He said many of the employees are expected to have their equipment

loaded at all times and drive the vehicles even on personal outings so they can

respond to an emergency immediately. That's why people see firefighters in

official department vehicles dropping off their children at school or shopping,

he said.

Mainar -- whose approach was endorsed by Councilman Kevin Faulconer --

said three fire vehicles have already been taken off the take-home list.

The fire chief and a police representative promised to return to the

committee in six months with an update on how many more cars will be kept in


The departments will also conduct an annual review of take-home vehicles.

According to the audit, 347 city-owned vehicles are taken home by

employees, 277 by police officers, 48 by firefighters and the rest by public

works and other departments.

Councilman Carl DeMaio said many of the cases are legitimate, but the

public perception is that it's a perk.

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