Savannah trip bolsters plan to in-source Augusta fleet management

NOTE: A requirement of Augusta’s procurement code was misstated in an article in Friday’s Augusta Chronicle. The code requires the formal solicitation of an unspecified number of competitive bids for purchases of $10,000 or more.

 

The Chronicle regrets the error.

 

Augusta could model a new “hybrid” fleet maintenance system similar to one used in Savannah.

Commissioners and city staff who traveled to the coastal city last month reported their findings to a subcommittee Thursday. The trip was part of a push by some commissioners to break Augusta’s 14-year contractual relationship with First Vehicle Services and bring routine vehicle maintenance back in-house.

A negotiated one-year extension of First Vehicle’s contract commissioners approved for 2017 cost taxpayers $2.96 million. The fee does not include parts and other services. Last year Augusta spent a combined $4.8 million with the company.

Savannah’s system has never been outsourced and has a total budget of $5.6 million, with 42 employees and 13 vacancies, city Central Services Director Takiyah Douse said.

The system does use outside providers including contractors to maintain heavy equipment, fire apparatus, body work, glass and perform other repairs.

Like Augusta, Savannah disposes of surplus vehicles and parts on govdeals.com, she said. Police officers with a year on the job there can drive their cars home within a 50-mile radius, she said.

It’s easier to procure parts in Savannah because only three bids are required for purchases up to $25,000, Douse said. Deputy Administrator Chester Brazzell recommended the city reevaluate its procurement processes to make them more efficient.

City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson said she’s already requested staff to examine the total cost of bringing the service in house and how it could structure a hybrid model. Most cities now use a hybrid mix of staff-provided and contracted services, city Capital Projects Manager Maurice McDowell said.

Guilfoyle asked Douse to examine why Georgia State Patrol uses a contract with a chain maintenance shop for its vehicles, and asked Jackson to prepare a multiyear business plan to show the proposed program’s true costs.

Wayne Guilfoyle said after the Savannah visit, he realized the program’s director makes a difference.

“You’ve got to have the right person in the right place,” he said.

In another matter Douse said the city has stepped up the reminder system it uses to ensure vehicles go in for routine service. An audit performed last year revealed many employees skipped the paid-for visits.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-2315 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

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