Grand jury urges fleet maintenance
County official says many recommendations already implemented
The Nevada County Grand Jury has a few recommendations for how local governments maintain their vehicle fleets.
Grass Valley and Nevada City could use competition to minimize their fleet costs. The two cities have no vehicle replacement plans, which could help with budgeting.
“One area of concern, we questioned if there are opportunities to reduce fleet (vehicle) maintenance through integration of fleet maintenance,” said David Anderson, grand jury foreperson.
A grand jury report, released this week, focuses on how the governments could improve fleet vehicle maintenance by combining operations. It lists the number of vehicles each government has. Nevada County has 414 vehicles, Grass Valley has 65, and Nevada City has 22.
Report findings note all local governments use fuel cards for cost control. This is more efficient to track fuel costs and different departments, such as the police. Yet the report pointed out, none of the entities had a long term plan for older vehicles.
“It’s a question of planning, if you budget ahead you ensure your budget is adequate for future needs,” said Anderson.
Other findings state that Grass Valley and Nevada City are not exploiting competitive possibilities to minimize costs. Grass Valley and Nevada City maintenance invoice records are identified with the specific department where expenditures are used. But neither Grass Valley or Nevada City track maintenance through online spreadsheets.
“That could better plan and execute maintenance needs. An oil change, for example,” said Anderson.
The grand jury made a number of recommendations. Grass Valley and Nevada City should consider negotiating volume contracts with local repair shops. They also should consider centralizing vehicle expenses. Additionally, both cities should consider implementing automated maintenance software, while Grass Valley should evaluate adding more staff to the fleet services department.
A county official said many of these recommendations already are in place.
Trisha Tillotson, Nevada County Public Works director, said her department will work with the Board of Supervisors on preparing a response to the grand jury.
However, the county is already doing what the grand jury recommends, she added.
“The Sheriff’s Office already mandated an alternative fuel vehicle program, and by 2022 it will begin,” she said. “And by 2025 all transit vehicles will be alternative fuel, as mandated by the state.”
She also pointed out the county, Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee will share maintenance operations, though no specific plans currently exist.
“The recommendations are what we want the public to be aware of,” said Anderson. “But we have no power to demand the recommendations be taken. It’s up to the cities and county to accept or reject our recommendations.”
The goal of the report is to ensure effective and efficient government, Anderson said. A grand jury also responds to citizen complaints and inquires to prison operations in each county.
“A grand jury has pretty broad powers requesting information,” said Anderson. “We operate in secrecy, so we can publicize what we do through our reports and we got more coming.”
William Roller is a staff writer for The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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