City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

December 12, 2011
Audit: Sacramento's take-home vehicles costing thousands

The city of Sacramento's fleet of take-home vehicles for employees costs taxpayers roughly $800,000 a year in commuting costs alone, an internal audit has found.

Nearly 250 employees have take-home cars, but in some cases, privileges "were granted to individuals that are not required to provide immediate after hour response or fill an essential City need," the audit found. Most of the cars are taken home by police officers, whose union has an "informal" agreement with the city to allow the practice.

While the perk of a take-home vehicle is granted to officers who are called to incidents and events at all hours - including homicide detectives, hostage negotiators and supervisors - incomplete records kept by the police department have made it difficult to track the total financial impact of those vehicles, city auditor Jorge Oseguera said.

Police Chief Rick Braziel said the number of vehicles is appropriate and the department's operation of take-home vehicles is efficient.

He said the city has saved money through the policy, for example, by allowing officers to respond to calls after-hours directly from home without first driving to headquarter to pick up vehicles. Many officers must also respond to incidents as quickly as possible, making their take-home vehicles essential, Braziel said.

According to the audit, nine city employees with take-home vehicles live more than 35 miles from the freeway interchange at W and X, and 29th and 30th streets. City policy states take-home vehicles cannot be given to workers who live more than 35 miles from that interchange.

"If employees are living beyond that distance, we need to rein that in," Oseguera said.

Oseguera said the city should look at limiting take-home vehicles to employees living within 20 miles of the freeway interchange - a move that could save $455,229 a year.

The audit also found the city could save millions of dollars by selling and not replacing vehicles in its fleet that are under-used.

One-third of the city's "light-duty" fleet - sedans, vans, light trucks and motorcycles - are driven less than 6,000 miles a year. If the city sold those vehicles and did not replace them, the eventual savings would be nearly $5.8 million, according to the audit.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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