As the Augusta Commission concludes a months-long study of whether to in-source vehicle maintenance, commissioners learned Thursday an in-house operation won’t result in immediate savings.
Bolstered by Fire Chief Chris James’ decision to service his own fire trucks and equipment almost two years ago and a recent visit to Savannah, commissioners have spent months evaluating whether to end the contract with First Vehicle Services, a national fleet maintenance provider, and have city staff do the work.
Augusta has some 2,200 assets, including cars, trucks, heavy equipment and small equipment, with Richmond County Sheriff’s Office vehicles making up the largest percentage.
A report presented to a fleet subcommittee Thursday by Central Services Director Takiyah Douse, however, indicated that bringing fleet in-house, or in-house with an outsourced parts provider, will come in slightly higher than the estimate to keep the service contracted out.
Bringing the service in-house is estimated at $4.42 million, or with an outsourced parts provider about $10,000 less, while the estimate to contract out is $4.39 million, according to the report.
The report showed other southern governments as across the map in number of vehicles, staffing levels and fleet maintenance budgets, but the ones listed – Berkeley County, S.C., and Macon-Bibb, Savannah, Henry County and Columbus-Muscogee in Georgia – all do the work in-house, with some services such as supplying parts, tires or sophisticated engine repairs contracted out.
Commissioner Ben Hasan, the subcommittee chairman, said he was ready to either in-source fleet maintenance or put it out for bids, potentially ending Augusta’s 14-year relationship with First Vehicle, which Hasan called an “evergreen” contract.
Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle questioned the report’s numbers and argued that First Vehicle should get to make a presentation to the group, something Hasan resisted.
“We’re not bringing them in,” Hasan said, comparing the fire chief’s cost-savings thus far to what Augusta could achieve, despite the report’s findings. “We’ve already seen it; just on a smaller scale,” Hasan said.
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