City scuttles fleet’s aging autos
City staff is planning to sell old cars, stop renting so much storage space and reduce consultant expenditures to help contend with an expected revenue shortfall in next year’s budget.
These cost-cutting moves are in addition to plans to do away with two employee positions, freeze pay increases and make other money-saving moves, previously reported in the South Jetty, as the city has worked to hammer out a leaner budget for next year.
The city is making a variety of cuts to contend with a shortfall projected to be coming due to lower revenue from building permits, a flat tax base and lower sales tax revenue. The city’s revenues normally increase more than $250,000 each year, but they are expected to plunge about $360,000 this time around due to the economy, according to city officials.
City Manager Michael Kovacs said he expects the city to reduce the size of its vehicle fleet by about 25 to 30 percent over the course of the next year. Kovacs estimated the fleet’s size at “easily 100” vehicles, counting everything from passenger cars to backhoes.
Reducing the fleet’s size will be a long-term money saver, according to Kovacs. The worst of the vehicles will be auctioned and won’t be replaced, he said.
The city will save about $2,000 in auto insurance the first year of the fleet reduction, said Darla Honea, the city’s finance director. Long-term savings will be greater, because the vehicles won’t be replaced, and at about $30,000 per vehicle, “that’s substantial,” Honea said.
In another cost-cutting move, the city plans to stop renting at least seven of its eight rented storage units, Honea said. That will save about $910 a month, she said.
City government will have to rely almost entirely on city-owned storage areas, Kovacs said. To do that, staffers will have to cut down on what’s being stored by prioritizing storage needs and getting rid of the unneeded items, he said.
Some items might be sold, and some might be thrown away, Kovacs said. Among items in city storage units are mattresses and cots that were brought in for Hurricane Katrina evacuees in 2005.
Other items in storage include the Christmas decorations that the city puts up on power poles each December.
The city also is planning to reduce its budget for consultant fees. The 2008-09 budget for that was $65,000. The proposed amount for the 2009-10 budget is $58,000 The budget pays not just for consultants but also for grant writers and lobbyists who look after the interests of Port Aransas when the Legislature is in session.
City staff will take on some of the work that consultants normally would have done, like an ongoing project to rewrite the city’s zoning code ordinances, Kovacs said.