December 20, 2014

Elyria
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City saving thousands by slashing city-owned vehicles for employees

ELYRIA — Two years ago, more than two dozen city employees drove city-owned vehicles to and from their homes both inside and outside of Lorain County.

Today, that number is fewer than 10, and the city is saving thousands of dollars a year because more employees are driving their own vehicles.

Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said she can rattle off who drives a city vehicle from memory. The common thread among them is they are on-call employees who must respond at a moment’s notice in the event of an emergency.

Those employees include Dave Rothgery, Gary Kothe, Rodney Eye, Richard Boone, Joe Strohsack, Larry Showalter, Fire Chief Rich Benton, as well as a meter reader on a rotating schedule and the fire department’s training officer.

“Take-home cars used to go to the city engineer, parks director, cemetery supervisor, streets superintendent and supervisors in water pumping and water distribution,” Siwierka said. “The rule of thumb now is all employees have to have specialized equipment in their vehicles. With a city vehicle, it’s quicker for them to go directly to the scene after hours.”

Siwierka said a lot of employees drive city-owned vehicles outside the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but all are on-the-clock employees. She said she frequently receives calls from the public asking why employees have vehicles and how many have vehicles.

“But I tell residents it’s because they are going to do something whether it’s responding to a water main break or picking up debris in the road that’s dangerous to drivers,” she said.

The savings from limiting take home vehicles is about $12,000 a year in mileage.

City administrators, the likes of Siwierka, Mayor Holly Brinda and others who work in her office, do not drive city vehicles, a change from previous administrations.

The savings there is another $24,000 a year, according to a report Brinda gave earlier this year.

Siwierka said the support-car system of the Elyria Police Department differs as multiple officers within the department drive vehicles to and from home. Who has such a privilege is tied to hire dates: Those hired prior to 1996 are given a support vehicle if they live in LorainCounty, and those hired after 1996 must live in Elyria to take vehicles home.

“We’ve take it down to the bare minimum of vehicles that need to go home,” she said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121or lroberson@chroniclet.com.