City might develop system for tracking fleet vehicles

By SHERRI KOLADE
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Officials here could change the way they monitor city-owned fleet vehicles after the City Council held an open-session meeting Nov. 20.

Currently, the city does not have a uniform way to track fleet usage such as miles, maintenance, fuel costs or other car-related issues.

Individual departments are responsible for keeping track of their vehicles and many departments use different formats – such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel – to keep track, which may lead to confusion and a lack of accountability, Councilwoman Janet Badalow, who introduced the topic, said during the meeting.

“We are looking at how our employees are utilizing the vehicles and there should be some correlation between what they are doing and how much fuel they are spending based on the vehicle they are using,” Badalow said. “It has to be a more efficient way of doing this.”

The city has about 70 fleet vehicles, including trucks, cars, emergency and undercover vehicles, in city departments.

Badalow said she planned to send a spreadsheet to Council President Kenneth Baron and Mayor Dan Paletko by Nov. 26 and hopes for a response soon.

“I’ll see if they can at least get a more uniform way to track information,” Badalow said. “At least this would be a start.”

Baron said a lot of city departments are stressed as it is and they don’t need “busy work.”

“If it is really something you can latch onto and do something with, then go for it,” Baron said. “But it is not just something to look at and say, ‘OK looks good,’ and that is it.”

During the meeting, Councilman Joseph Kosinkski asked Badalow if the city would benefit from keeping a uniform log on fleet vehicles.

Badalow said in the future the City Council will make a decision to either purchase or lease a vehicle based on current revenue.

“My issue about keeping track more accurately of each individual vehicle is because when you go to replace it you want to go back and say, ‘Your department doesn’t do well with this vehicle and we might want to replace it for you,’” Badalow said.

Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton said keeping track of the city vehicles is a good idea.

“When you are talking about accountability, vehicle maintenance or how your tax dollars are spent it is all about accounting for it,” Hicks-Clayton said.

Last year, Badalow said she received a log of all the city’s fleet vehicles but it was in an unusable format and she noticed a lack of uniformity. Badalow said she brought the issue up during her first term, about eight years ago, and she hopes soon that a serious change will occur.

“(City Council) could give clear direction to administration on what we want done,” Badalow said. “Administration could do it or not. Sometimes there is no way to do it, because we are looking to make some direction in the future, or possibly now, about vehicle use and the like.”

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)