City’s rolling stock due for a review?

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 8, 2010

A report says Mississippi owns 7,592 vehicles and spends $16 million on fuel and repair bills. It’s a big number.

But consider that Vicksburg, with about 25,000 residents, owns 337.

That’s a big number, too. In context, it’s one vehicle per 75 citizens.

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The total, of course, includes fire trucks, police cruisers, ambulances and vehicles for Mayor Paul Winfield, North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield and most of the department heads on the city’s vast payroll. (South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman turned in the keys to his city vehicle years ago, saying he wanted to avoid getting grief from people about authorized or unauthorized usage.)

The total includes also every size and shape of maintenance truck and at least 100 are parsed out to an array of people for an array of purposes.

The expense seems awesome. At an average cost of $20,000 (which might be low), Vicksburg has a $6.7 million investment in rolling stock. If each uses 10 gallons of gas a day at $2 per gallon (fuel for municipal vehicles is tax-exempt), the tally comes to $7,000 a day or $2.5 million per year.

In a kind gesture to taxpayers, Vicksburg’s three elected officials have foregone the 5 percent raises they would, by city ordinance, be due this year. That’s to be appreciated, but the total “saved” was about one day’s fuel bill.

No one wants to dial 911 in need of an ambulance or fire truck and be told, “Sorry, none are available,” or, “Sorry, they ran out of gas,” but it certainly seems a review might be in order.

A mere 10 percent reduction in the Vicksburg inventory to about 300 vehicles could reduce city spending by at least a quarter-million dollars annually.

That’s a number worth considering.