Fire Department cutting costs doing own fleet maintenance

Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic
Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF) Some Augusta leaders feel it could be time for the city to get under the hood and go to work on its own vehicles.

“Well right now I think we’re headed in the right direction looking at the possibilities that we can do this that’s where we are at so far,” says Commissioner Ben Hasan.

It was January when commissioners first decided to investigate whether it would be cheaper to take over fleet maintenance, instead of paying a private company to do the work saying a private firm goal is to make a profit.

“When you talk about a business they’re in business to make money they’re not in business to be people friendly they’re not in business to help the city they’re in business to make money,” says Commissioner Marion Williams.

Last year the city paid the private firm, more than four million dollars for maintenance.

“Do you think it can be done cheaper in-house?”

“On the face of it I would say yes but I do not have the data at this point to prove that,” says Commissioner Ben Hasan.

Three years ago the Fire Department was paying the private company one point three million dollars to work its equipment, but in 2015 the Fire Department took over its own maintenance, and this year the maintenance budget is about 800 thousand dollar that would be a big savings.

“About a half a million we have saved definitely in the first year or two we have added more vehicles and have still be able to do it and will I think  maintain being able to do it for a lot less than one point three million,” says Fire Chief Chris James.

If the city did take over maintenance it already owns the building and land where the shop is located, a garage that the sub-committee looking into bringing fleet maintenance in house isn’t familiar with.

That’s why the sub-committee is planning to take a tour next month.

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