The city's costly fleet of take-home vehicles is getting a closer look.
City Council members said Tuesday night they were encouraged by the potential savings of limiting the take-home vehicle policy, as well as reducing the number of under-utilized vehicles in the city's overall fleet that are replaced. An internal audit - released in December - found the city could save millions by changing those policies.
The city spends more than $1 million a year maintaining its fleet of take-home vehicles, most of which are driven by police employees. Records governing vehicle policies are mostly lacking, the audit also found, a situation City Auditor Jorge Oseguera has previously said left the city at risk of having its system abused.
Of the money spent on the take-home fleet, $455,618 goes toward paying for those vehicles to be driven to and from employees' homes, according to the audit.
Police union head Mark Tyndale said his union wants to help "the city navigate through this budget crisis" and asked that changes to the take-home policy be decided over the negotiating table.
In addition to the savings from cutting back on take-home cars, Oseguera's study found the city could save millions by selling - and not replacing - underused vehicles in its overall fleet.
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 $5.7 million, according to the audit.
City Manager John Shirey said some savings could be found in time for the 2012/13 fiscal year, when the city will face an estimated $16 million deficit.
Councilman Kevin McCarty said the audit exposed "a needed approach" and added "any penny we can find further helps" the city's situation.