NORMAN — City officials have hired a consultant to help them study the most cost-effective way to manage and maintain the city's fleet of more than 850 vehicles.
Many of the vehicles are old and in need of replacement. Couple that with rising fuel costs, and you have a budgetary nightmare, Public Works Director Shawn O'Leary said.
More vehicles are added to the fleet every year, but no new mechanics have been added in 10 years, O'Leary said.
“Frankly, we think we need some help. We can't keep going on this path,” O'Leary said.
The annual cost of maintaining the fleet is about $5 million, he said, with costs increasing every year.
City council members on Tuesday approved a $53,580 contract with Mercury Associates Inc., of Overland Park, Kan., to evaluate the fleet operation. The firm is charged with assessing the fleet division's overall effectiveness and coming up with management recommendations.
“We want a modern fleet-management operation that provides superior customer service and is also cost-effective,” O'Leary said.
The city's fleet includes everything from police patrol cars to fire trucks, trash trucks and backhoes. The average age of the vehicles is 9.9 years, but some are 30 to 35 years old, and others are brand-new, O'Leary said.
About 70 vehicles need replacing because of age or condition, he said. The budget does not allow for replacing them all at once.
At times, O'Leary said, “we're one accident away from being able to pick up trash, and that's not a good situation to be in. We feel like we can use a fresh pair of eyes to look at our operation and look at how we can go into the future in a more cost-effective way.”
Mercury Associates is considered an expert in the field, he said. The company said an in-depth analysis will take about 16 weeks.