Broke State Spent $7K Per Cubicle

Legislator: $7K work stations don't "pass the smell test'

By Gene Cubbison
|  Saturday, Feb 13, 2010  |  Updated 11:09 AM PDT
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Legislators grill agency execs over cost of equipment, vehicles, meetings, facilities.

Legislators grill agency execs over cost of equipment, vehicles, meetings, facilities.

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The high cost of state government is being driven home by outraged lawmakers in Sacramento this week.

They're picking apart some $75 million in equipment and other overhead costs incurred last year. 

Caltrans is taking heat for big outlays on new vehicles that replaced models that reached 120,000 miles. The Department of Motor Vehicles and Air Resources Board are under the microscope for spending an average of $7,000 on new office cubicles. A number of state agencies also are being criticized for holding conferences in private meeting facilities.

Agency executives were grilled Wednesday by members of the Assembly's Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, including State Rep. Nathan Fletcher, (R-75th District), who has constituents in San Diego, Poway and Escondido.

"Is it an unreasonable question to ask if $7,000 for a work station is exorbitant?" Fletcher challenged Bob Courtnier, a  Department of General Services deputy director who oversees state equipment purchasing.

"To the layman, no, it's not an unreasonable question," Courtnier replied, explaining that added costs for power, telephone and electronics setups go into the bottom line for the cubicles.

"It's the labor to install it," Courtnier also pointed out. "You don't just pick up modular furniture and bring it in. It has to be assembled.  And it's the design for it. It's the complete package for that modular furniture."

Fletcher seemed unsatisfied, citing hardships of drastic state funding cuts in public safety, education and health care, along with hikes in fees and taxes.

 "I just don't know how you take that back [to constituents] and explain it as reasonable," Fletcher said. "You could say the state got the best deal it could. I just don't think it passes the smell test."

The committee recommended that the agencies extend the replacement mileage for non-emergency light-duty vehicles past 120,000 miles; implement employee vehicle-sharing policies to reduce the size of state fleets; and hold conferences in state or municipal facilities instead of private venues.

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