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City of Willmar, Minn., staff find ways to cut $280K

A policy recommended by staff with the city of Willmar will eliminate 15 vehicles, to include Tauraus models, like these seen above, from the city's fleet, at a savings this year of more than $280,000. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- Mayor Frank Yanish has praised city staff for recommending a policy that will eliminate 15 vehicles from the city's fleet and save the city $281,652 in 2012 and an estimated $1,400 in insurance and licensing costs.

In addition, the policy, adopted by the City Council Tuesday night, will reassign 9 vehicles as "general use'' vehicles that can be checked out and used by any city employee for city business.

The mayor, in his annual State of the City message Feb. 6, said one of his goals is to maintain efficient and effective services and maintain efficient investments in transportation, facilities and technology with less revenue.

"I want to thank the committee, the city staff and (City Administrator) Charlene Stevens for pointing out that 15 vehicles are no longer needed by the city. These vehicles will be sold at public auction,'' said Yanish.

"When you figure the cost of the vehicles, maintenance and the fuel, the insurance, the savings are huge. Thanks again for a job well done,'' Yanish said. "I believe we are well on our way to a more streamlined city government.''

Council member Denis Anderson said the recommendation was a significant accomplishment.

"Hats off to the committee and the administrator for coming up with what seems to be a very, very good program,'' said Anderson, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, which recommended the policy to the council.

Stevens said she asked Fire Chief Marv Calvin, Police Chief David Wyffels, Finance Director Steve Okins and Public Works Director Holly Wilson to take an in-depth look at the city's fleet needs and evaluate if the fleet was the appropriate size and types of vehicles needed for each department.

During the Finance Committee meeting Feb. 13, Calvin said the vehicle policy committee had a number of meetings over about two months' time. He said the panel took the directive from the council and from Stevens and came back with a recommendation.

Okins said city employees had an opportunity to comment.

Stevens said she intends to implement the policy in early March.

During an interview Tuesday night, Stevens said there would be no change in services as a result of the fleet reduction. She said the committee did a good job of determining what vehicles are needed, if those vehicles were the right tools for the job and how those vehicles were used.

In some cases, she said, the city may be paying mileage to employees to drive their personal vehicle rather than a city vehicle, "but we think we can provide the same level of service.''

In other business, the council approved multiple contracts with ServiceMaster of Willmar for custodial services at city buildings, including the Community and Activity Center; window cleaning at city buildings; and floor cleaning at the wastewater treatment facility, Fire Department and City Hall.

The Finance Committee recommended the contracts, totaling $47,389, because the council had decided against filling a vacant custodial position and had directed city staff to investigate hiring a private cleaning contractor to assist the remaining two custodians.

The cost of the four contracts will be paid with funds originally appropriated for the Community Center custodial position and partial professional service appropriations from the Fire Department budget. The contracts will go into effect March 5 but not later than March 12.

Also, the council set the preliminary budget for the 2012 street improvement program at $2,737,000. Okins said the bond issue that will be sold to finance the 2012 improvement will include $500,000 that covered the cost of pothole repairs in 2011.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150