In a June 29 performance audit, city auditor Eduardo Luna found that of the 347 vehicles provided to city employees, 99 of them were underutilized. And, removing the 99 take-home city vehicles would save the city $718,000 per year.
"The City assigns take-home vehicles to some employees who rarely respond to emergency callbacks, do not have any special skills, or do not require any special equipment when responding to emergencies," reads the report.
Luna recommends repossessing all 26 take-home vehicles from SDPD's canine unit, and 29 of the 42 motorcycles from the traffic division.
In addition to taking unnecessary take-home vehicles, the city auditor's office found that the city failed to collect $212,000 from ambulance company, San Diego Medical Services, for maintenance, fuel, and accident claims.
Overall, Luna says the city fails to keep track of the vehicles. "During our audit, we found that the city lacks a review process for take-home vehicle assignments and associated costs, and many units do not have clearly defined response time expectations."
Police chief William Lansdowne, fire chief Javier Mainar, and public works director Tony Heinrichs didn't agree with all of Luna's findings.
"While the audit report appropriately recommends that the expense associated with take-home vehicle use and less costly alternatives to the assignment of take-home vehicles should always be considered, it does not reflect that in the absence of these assignments the City may incur additional risk or expense due to the loss of the capability or services provided by these vehicle assignments," was the response.
Lansdowne and Mainar defended the need for the K-9 unit's 26 vehicles and the importance for specially trained off-duty personnel to have their vehicles in case of an emergency.
"While management does not fully agree with all audit findings and recommendations, we find that the work performed is valuable and will result in improved City operations and controls," read the report.
The Audit Committee will review the report at a future meeting.