Launch Slideshow

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Building the budgeting process

Building the budgeting process

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    Photo: City of Houston

    The Houston vision is to create a self-perpetuating vehicle and equipment fund that requires new appropriations of zero dollars specifically for the replacement and maintenance of the public works and engineering fleet.

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    Photo: City of Westminster

    Steve Grabarek, a mechanic in Westminster, Colo., helps hold the line on replacement costs through quality maintenance programs.

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    Photo: City of Houston

    Minh Tran (left) and Wilfred (Willy) Maranon repair the brakes on a Ford 9000 dump truck in Houston's main fleet shop.

Competing for business

In Bismarck, N.D., fleet and facility manager Dennis Albers said his department is in transition to a centralized fleet management operation. Starting in January 2006, the fire department's equipment was added to Albers' responsibilities. “We're hoping to add the police pretty soon,” said Albers. “We have to prove our worth to those folks before the city will allow that to happen.”

What does that require? “If I can do the preventive maintenance and repairs cheaper and just as quickly as the neighborhood shop, then we'll get the business,” said Albers. “Each department head gets a budget, and they can spend it as they see fit. If I can do the work cheaper, they'll give it to me. It's a regular business that I'm trying to operate here. I have to show close to zero profit or loss at the end of the year.

“We've come out with about $2000 to the good on a $1.5 million budget,” said Albers. “I was pleased with our results. I think our experiment is working.”