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Rental vehicles keep government rolling

Apparently, civil servants prefer a snazzy rental ride to a fleet-vehicle beater.Rental car and truck mileage has ballooned to 1.

Apparently, civil servants prefer a snazzy rental ride to a fleet-vehicle beater.

Rental car and truck mileage has ballooned to 1.1 million kilometers in fiscal year 2005-2006, up from 350,000 kilometres in 2003-2004, according to the fleet vehicle agency’s annual report.

And that increased use comes at a cost.

Rental charges topped $560,000 in 2005-2006, up from $152,000 in 2003-2004.

Rentals now amount to about half the fleet vehicle agency’s $1.2 million vehicle budget.

It isn’t known how many vehicles were rented because the numbers don’t appear in the report.

But during the same period, the pool of government-owned cars and trucks grew by six vehicles, while the mileage accumulated by the fleet dropped by 5,000 kilometres.

“There is an increase in demand (for rentals),” said fleet vehicle agency director Carl Rumscheidt on Wednesday.

“We currently don’t own enough vehicles. That causes us to rent more than we otherwise would want. If we could own a few more vehicles we would find that right balance again.”

Rumscheidt blamed the reliance on rentals on devolution and budget limitations.

Since 2003, the Yukon government has assumed control of many former federal departments and services; that means the need for vehicles has increased.

The 440 vehicles in the Yukon’s fleet are rotated in order to ensure maximum usage, said Rumscheidt.

But the mileage accumulated by the cars and trucks dropped in 2005-2006 compared to 2003-2004.

The fleet vehicle agency’s mandate is to provide vehicles to government departments — or clients.

If the client requests a vehicle that isn’t in the fleet, the agency will rent it for the government department from a private company, said Rumscheidt.

Many of the vehicles rented privately — about 50 per cent — are heavy pickup trucks used by departments like Highways and Public Works for construction, he said.

Thirty-five per cent of the vehicles rented are SUVs; the rest are sedans, he said.

The agency can’t buy more vehicles to meet its demands because its budget is capped at $1.2 million.

But throwing more money at the problem isn’t necessarily the best solution, either, said Rumscheidt.

“Say we had an unlimited spending capacity and we went and bought 600 vehicles,” he said. “Chances are those vehicles would sit around idle for a great part of the time.

“So, for us, it’s to find the right balance of owning and renting periodically; rather than waste money sitting idle, we rent it for part of the year.

“We will always rent vehicles because that makes best use of the vehicle stock. With the increase in demand (however), we would like to acquire more vehicles so that we can get our vehicle rental number down to the right figure.

“We’d like to find that right balance.”

Information obtained on the government’s contract registry reveals that Whitehorse Motors received $10,000 for renting vehicles to the agency in 2005.

Herz made $100,000, while Norcan Leasing made $550,000.

In 2006-2007, Norcan has received $925,000 for vehicle rentals so far.

Budget has received $175,000, while Hertz and Subaru have each received $25,000.

Renting vehicles is tendered through a standing offer agreement struck every two years, said Rumscheidt.

Rental companies submit their prices and the government awards the standing offer to the company with the best rates, he said.

Though the agency usually rents vehicles for other government departments, several of those rentals aren’t paid for out of the agency’s budget, said Rumscheidt.

So, reading the contract registry does not give a completely accurate picture of how much is being spent on rentals.

“They’re a mixed bag,” he said.

But the trend is upward and it will continue to be, said Rumscheidt.

While rental figures for the 2006-2007 fiscal year aren’t yet known, “They haven’t gone down, that’s for sure, so they’ll be significant,” said Rumscheidt.

“Exactly what they’ll be, we’ll see where we get to on that.”