New York, NY - Workers Ordered to Give Up City-Owned Cars
New York, NY - Economic hard times are about to hit New York City’s employees where it hurts: in their driveways.
As the Bloomberg administration scrambles to cut spending, it is ordering city agencies like the police, parks and health departments to give up nearly 700 city-owned cars, a cherished perk for their workers.
The move would save $20 million over the next two years, according to a copy of the memorandum sent to city agencies.
The decision to sell off scores of Toyota Prius cars and Ford Escape sport utility vehicles is very likely to irritate many city workers, who use the them to travel around the city inspecting sights or rushing to meetings. But it would help blunt criticism that City Hall practices a form of vehicular hypocrisy, telling ordinary New Yorkers to use mass transportation while at times clogging the streets with its own city-issued cars.
City agencies must relinquish at least 10 percent, or about 685, of their 6,800 nonemergency vehicles by the end of March, according to the memo from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, which was sent on yesterday and obtained by The New York Times.
And they must cut their overall vehicle expenses by roughly another 5 percent, either by relinquishing more cars or cutting down on fuel or maintenance costs, the memo said.
The decision represents Mr. Bloomberg’s latest attack on what he regards as unnecessary traffic that snarls the city’s roadways and pollutes the air.
Removing 700 city cars from the road, Mr. Bloomberg’s memo said, would help the city meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions from city government by 30 percent by 2017.
Jeff Kay, the director of the mayor’s office of operations, said the “goal is twofold - one, produce savings at a time when we need to stretch every penny, and two, reduce our carbon footprint to help reach our sustainability goals.”
He added, “The fleet reduction does both.”
Union officials who represent city workers declined to weigh in on the change, saying most of the cars are driven by nonunion supervisors and managers.
The city faces a projected budget gap of at least $1.3 billion next year. City Hall aides have pledged that in such tough financial times, all spending, no matter how seemingly off limits, must be scrutinized. The mayor’s decision to take away cars seemed to reinforce that message.
Many city agencies operate their own fleet of cars, which they assign to employees for official use. Buildings inspectors use city-owned cars to travel to construction sites, for example. And supervisors at the Department of Parks and Recreation use them to get to far-flung city properties.
For many of these employees, mass transportation may add hours to their travel schedule.
But City Hall is convinced that the agencies can do more with less, possibly by sharing fewer cars, or perhaps even using rental services, on occasion.
The Police Department has about 1,200 so-called light-duty, nonemergency cars. The Department of Environmental Protection has about 750.
The city estimates that most of the cars have a resale value of about $2,000 at auction.
Douglas M. Turetsky, a spokesman for the city’s Independent Budget Office, said the estimated $20 million in savings from selling the cars “could preserve another essential service.” “When you are facing a big budget gap, every bit counts,” he said.
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