Of the 13 people who addressed the Palm Coast City Council at a public, budget meeting last week, three brought it up: The city has too many vehicles, they claimed.
The implication was in the very first speaker’s second question “How many vehicles does the city owns compared to the number of employees?” Another speaker put a number on it: “Why can’t we cut the salaries of the city employees and get rid of the 436 trucks that I think we have?” Moments later, yet another speaker, sarcastically referring to the extensive amount of space available at the county government building, said, to laughter and applause, “there’s enough parking spaces for 430 vehicles.”
When council members spoke of the criticism at a subsequent budget workshop on Monday, Mayor Jon Netts had upped what he called the “urban legend” of the city’s extensive fleet to 450 vehicles.
The number is, top say the least, generously inflated.
The city has between 340 and 350 employees. It has a total of 285 vehicles. Those include the firetrucks and other vehicles at the fire department. They include the utility department’s 85 vehicles. They include those strange-looking vehicles you see digging around and repairing swales. They also include 13 off-road maintenance vehicles for the city’s golf course (no, not carts).
When Ray Britt, the city’s finance director, put the figure in that range during that meeting attended by many residents upset about the city’s seeming largesse toward its own, the crowd groaned in response, as if casting doubt on the hard figures in front of Britt. The finance manager was visibly annoyed. “If anybody wants to go to the back of the budget book in the capital improvement section, there is a list of all city vehicles, including the tractors and stuff that we use to mow. And I’ve got that list up here,” Britt said, pointing emphatically at his binder. “I’d be glad to meet with anybody after the meeting, there is not 400 pieces of equipment on this list, so if you want to catch me after the meeting, I’ll be glad to go over that with you.”
It’s not that the city doesn’t, in fact, have a generous fleet-management fund. The fund was set up early in the city’s life (Palm Coast incorporated in 1999) to enable the city to finance new vehicles on a rotating basis, so every year a portion of government funds are deposited into the specified fleet management fund. That’s how, for example, the fire department was able to pay for a new $374,000 fire truck this year.
That fund will have $4.8 million in the coming budget year, with $2.6 million budgeted in spending. Next year, in 2012, despite the spending in 2011, the fleet-management fund will grow to $5.9 million—and to $6.6 million by 2015. Spending in 2012 is set to be $5 million, going down to $3.4 million in 2013 and $2.6 million in 2014.
Below is a breakdown of city vehicles, as well as a breakdown of the cost of most city vehicles.
Number of Palm Coast City Vehicles By Department or Fund
|Passenger Vehicles||Specialty Vehicles||Off-Road Equipment||Total|
|Stormwater Management Fund||10||5||10||25|
|Building Permits & Inspections Fund||8||0||0||8|
|Golf Course Fund||0||0||13||13|
|Information Technology &Communications Fund||2||0||0||2|
|Fleet Management Fund||3||0||0||3|
City of Palm Coast Vehicle Costs
|Utility Body - Streets||$10,000|
|Passenger Van - Fire||$19,700|
|Pickups (Crew Cab & 4x4) (2-streets/1-Utility)||$52,770|
|Dump Truck - Stormwater||$110,000|
|30 Ton Trailer - Stormwater||$30,000|
|Bush Hog - Stormwater||$15,400|
|Utility F-350 - Stormwater||$35,000|
|Utility Body F-550 -Stormwater||$35,000|
|Mini-Excavator - Storm water||$70,000|
|Mowers - Streets (5)||$158,100|
|Multi-Terrain Loader - Utility||$79,000|
|Skid Loader - Streets||$26,400|
|Skid Steer - Stormwater||$91,000|
|Spray Rig - Parks||$24,000|
|Top Dresser - Parks||$15,500|
|Trailer - Stormwater||$15,000|