News 12 at 6 o'clock, October 13, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Keeping city vehicles rolling is costing millions. The city of Augusta is working to find cheaper ways to provide the services we all take for granted.
It's a good day for city worker James Baugh. He's usually busy unclogging sewage drains, but he's found time to actually clean his truck.
"Yeah you have to do that in between because you never know when you are going to get a call," said James.
Keeping city vehicles up and running comes at a cost of more than $300,000 a month. It's news that makes you wonder if that money is going down the drain.
"Well you gotta keep them maintained," said James. "Keeping them cleaned is just one aspect, doing the job is another aspect. If your truck is not properly maintained then you lose time."
"Absolutely," said fleet manager Ron Crowden. "You want your roads repaired. You want your ditches repaired. You want your recreation centers maintained."
The list goes on. Ron says he's facing a unique challenge. "The fleet continues to get older," said Ron. "The maintenance costs for an aging fleet gets higher. The money is not there to buy the new stuff."
The department services about 433 sheriff's cars, and if you think that's something, one fire truck costs $300,000.
"Equipment is expensive," said Ron. "If you look at the various services we provide I think you would be surprised."
You can say that again. From public safety to mowing the grass and taking out the trash, Ron and his guys spend more than $3 million a year to keep the city rolling.
"It goes back to what services do you want," said Ron. "Right now you may only want this, but tomorrow you're gonna want that."
This year's maintenance contract was $3.5 million. That number is expected to climb to $3.8 million next year. The issue will go before the Augusta commission next week.
City leaders are expected to put the maintenance contract back up for grabs in hopes of getting a cheaper deal. Ron Crowden says he will propose that the Augusta landfill take maintenance in-house. He says that should help keep the contract at the current $3.5 million.