Letter: Response to reader comments

TIM BURCHFIELDLetter: Response to reader comments

Timothy A Burchfield
Assistant City Manager
City of St Augustine

Dear Editor:

In the September 5, 2012 Weekday Issue of Historic City News, you printed a letter from a reader responding to another letter from Commissioner Bill Leary.

While some of the information in the letter is accurate, the reasoning behind these decisions was not communicated.

What wasn’t explained is that the City plans two years ahead to minimize the overall cost of government. In the past, the number of police vehicles to be replaced varied from year-to-year; resulting in drastic swings in the annual expense. Budgeting for six vehicles per year leveled the expense for planning purposes.

Mileage on these vehicles, when replaced, ranges between 40,000 and 70,000 miles. The City believes that the most important factor in replacing emergency vehicles is engine hours, not mileage. Police vehicles are operated, at a minimum, 12 hours-per-day and sometimes 24 hours-per-day. In order to ensure the demand for public safety, police cars are routinely replaced based on reliability and other factors.

Additionally, the vehicles taken out of operation are either rolled into the regular fleet, saving money by not purchasing new vehicles, or sold averaging five times the value the City recouped under the old system of replacing cars based only on the odometer.

Because of other actual savings this year, the City was able to move ahead the purchase of three police vehicles already budgeted for Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

The same rationale was used to purchase two Frontier trucks from this year’s budget instead of next year.

The decision to purchase a $90,000 bucket truck recently was made for safety and ongoing maintenance cost reasons — as was the decision to budget for an “extremely nice” Tahoe in Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

As for the accusation, “any department with excess funds has been instructed to spend, spend, spend,” I believe this to be conjecture.

The memorandum issued by the City Manager simply notified all department heads that the past practice of carrying forward non-encumbered items into the next fiscal year would no longer be acceptable.

In the current fiscal year, encumbering of expenditures will be cutoff on a certain date.

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