San Diego officials recently reviewed an auditor report suggesting the city could save more than $700,000 a year if it reduces the number of work vehicles San Diego Police Department and San Diego Fire and Rescue Department employees take home.
On Monday, the city's Audit Committee discussed the potential annual savings, which would be reached if SDPD and SDFD cut the number of take-home vehicles by at least 23 percent.
The reduction would not affect the city’s ability to respond to emergencies, the 58-page report said.
In March, Councilmembers David Alvarez and Lorie Zapf requested the city auditor to examine city vehicle take-home usage.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Zapf said in a release, “to cut staff levels for police and fire so that select employees have the privilege of using a take-home car, especially since it is important to put public safety first.”
San Diego police and SDFD spokemen agreed.
"We certainly understand that we can work a little more effeciently," said David Ramirez, San Diego police assistant chief. "We are going to see where we can find those efficiencies and we will reduce the number of cars being taken home."
Chief Javier Mainar said about 4 percent of fire department employees are assigned take-home vehicles because the vehicles are related to their work functions.
He added that the department has pulled three vehicles and may pull up to a dozen; the auditor recommends the department ultimately cut 23.
Ramirez said the police department has identified about 50 to 60 vehicles that could be pulled back; the auditor has recommended 76.
"We have identifed some money that we can use to put more officers on the street, more code compliance officers on the street," Ramirez said, "so I think it's a good thing."