To cut costs, Santa Barbara City Hall has reduced the number of its administrative car fleet by 12 — at a one-time savings of $280,000 — and extended the number of years it expects from its police cars from four to six years — or an additional 25,000 miles. These factoids emerged during a discussion of the city’s fleet management practices this Tuesday. There were no bombshells, but some surprises.

For example, the Ford Crown Victoria — the quintessential cop car for the past 20 years — has been discontinued by Ford, prompting city fleet managers to purchase 10 of the last ones made, which are now stockpiled at the airport property. With all the bells and whistles, a Crown Victoria costs $36,000. Some members of the Police Officers Association have expressed wonderment that City Hall could find the funds to buy 10 new cops cars, while insisting that union members take a shave and a haircut at the bargaining table. No such sentiments, however, were expressed Tuesday.

City Hall, it turns out, has 481 vehicles, 100 of which are deployed by the police and fire departments. To date, none are fully electric, the Leaf and the Volt having been released too late — and remain too expensive — to get into city rotation.

To the extent there was any controversy, councilmember Michael Self expressed concern that some employees were using city-owned vehicles to carpool home. The program involves cars that would not otherwise be used and are at the end of their shelf life. These cars are made available only to employees who carpool. For the convenience, they pay City Hall 25 cents a mile. Self noted that the federal government allows for reimbursement up to 52 cents a mile, and wondered why city workers were not charged more to recoup the full costs involved.


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