Orange County Public Works will begin teaming up with its cities and special districts to collaborate fleet maintenance and procurement services. By creating this cooperative relationship, Orange County and its participating localities hope to drive down the cost for services and purchases, thereby saving taxpayers money and maximizing the usefulness of their tax dollars.

“The County of Orange and Orange County cities [and special districts] likely will continue to experience a difficult economic forecast,” said the County’s staff report proposing the pan. “Reduced revenues have challenged the public sector to find creative solutions to maintain existing fleet-related service levels and maximize funding opportunities. Thus, developing a strategy to find the best use of limited resources has become paramount.”

The goal of the plan is to adopt a regional view for services, instead looking just inside of city or county limits.

The best-use concept will be applied through several means, the first of which would offer fleet maintenance and repair services to cities and special districts. According to the staff report, the County was approached by several cities to provide these services, but there wasn’t a policy in place.

The Public Works Department, therefore, sought the permission of the Board of Supervisors to negotiate and contract with any interested city or special district. The service couldn’t create any new revenues for the county, as the cost of service is required by law to equal the amount charged, but by increasing the amount of vehicles serviced, the Fleet Maintenance division could order greater quantities of parts, thereby reducing the cost of each repair.

The same theory of pooling purchasing parts for service would also be applied to the purchase of vehicles. If the county, cities, and special districts coordinated their vehicle purchases – not only the timing but the types of vehicles too – they could purchase greater quantities and likely receive lower bids. Furthermore, this pooled-purchasing policy would have provisions for the county’s surplus equipment. Participating governments would have the right of first refusal on any vehicles that the county was replacing.

Currently, all equipment not claimed by county departments goes to the county’s auctioneer. Under this new arrangement, governments would have the right to trade for or buy any equipment before it went to the county’s auction.

Lastly, the plan calls for not only servicing and purchasing vehicles, but also making equipment available for rent. According to the Staff Report, if Orange County has an excavator sitting unused, it should be available to any participating agency to rent.

Under that scenario, both Orange County and the renting agency benefit. Orange County would receive revenue from otherwise idle resources, while the renting government would be able to avoid purchasing the item or renting from a retail location.

The Staff Report summarized the proposed policies as a way to develop and enhance “the OC Fleet Services business model [to] assist the County, cities, and special districts with its fleet maintenance and equipment needs; reduce fleet costs; improve efficiency and effectiveness; and provide for the maximization of future funding.”

This ‘good-neighbor’ policy is the type of cooperative budget solution that could be a valuable tool in the coming fiscal years.