Thursday, July 16, 2009

Solano County Grand jury criticizes vehicle program

By Danny Bernardini/
Posted: 07/16/2009 01:00:55 AM PDT

The city of Fairfield's Vehicle Program on Tuesday came under criticism from the Solano County grand jury, which found problems with taking home vehicles, among other issues.

In their report, grand jurors balked at the idea that 24 percent of the 377-vehicle fleet was being used to commute between work and home.

"The city should examine the original justification and determine if the policy is still appropriate," the report's authors said.

The city's fleet includes automobiles, sport utility vehicles, trucks and vans. It excludes special-use vehicles, such as fire engines, street sweepers and heavy equipment.

As part of the Assigned Vehicle Program Procedures, only employees living within the city limits are allowed to take home an assigned vehicle, the grand jury reported.

Exceptions to that rule in the Police Department include motor officers, canine officers and those who drive unmarked cars. Also exempt are division managers and bureau commanders, who are entitled to either a take-home car or car allowance. Among those employees, only those living within 60 minutes from the Police Department are eligible.

At the time of the report, the city was reviewing whether to allow only those employees who live within city limits to take home a vehicle.

The jury also found fault with the city's choosing to buy vehicles rather than renting them. The report indicated that, by leasing vehicles, the city could adjust the size of its fleet to match budgets that shrink and grow.

The grand jury also recommended the city manager review language in the vehicle policies to avoid conflicts between city and department rules. The current language of the rules allows for a loose interpretation, which could lead to fiscal abuse, the jury said.

A review of the Police Department's assigned vehicle policy also needs a review, the jurors wrote, as it has been more than 15 years since the last one and the U.S. economic health has changed.

The final recommendation is for the city to combine purchasing vehicles with other governmental agencies, which has previously shown savings.

For a full report, visit

No comments: