State of Waste: How Many State-Owned Vehicles in West Virginia? - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

State of Waste: How Many State-Owned Vehicles in West Virginia?

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These are some of the the thousands of vehicles owned by the State of West Virginia. Most are marked by their distinct green state-license tags, but some bear regular tags, too. The problem is no one is exactly sure just how many cars and trucks the state owns and distributes right now.

The Office of Fleet Management puts the number of vehicles at 76 hundred.
But the  DMV says it has issued tags for 10 thousand 5 hundred vehicles.
And "BRIM", the state-owned insurance carrier says it may cover as many as 12 thousand vehicles, though a precise number is hard determine.

Because of the discrepancy, the State Legislature called for an audit

"This is an example of waste in government. And it's an example of one agency not talking to another," said Del. Ron Walters, (R) Kanawha.

West Virginia has the highest number of state-owned vehicles per-capita of the 15 Southern States, according to the Southern Legislative Conference. The annual cost of the state fleet is nearly 10-million dollars. Basically West Virginia has one vehicle for every five state employees.

"I don't like it, because they could use the money for something else, that we really need," said Renee Eplin, a taxpayer.

"That's pretty outrageous to me; pretty outrageous," said Ron Barker, a taxpayer.

No one quarrels with the need for police, corrections, parks, and other vehicles to conduct state business. But there are many unmarked cars for state employees to drive around in on a daily basis. Agencies are cooperating with the legislative audit of the fleet.

"It always makes sense to look at that from time to time. And that is what we are doing. As far as I know, it's not an inappropriate number, given the mission of the agencies that have these vehicles," said Mary Jane Pickens, Acting Secretary Dept. Of Administration.

One solution being proposed, is that the state stop buying so many new vehicles. Instead, it could get a lease agreement with a car rental agency for round-trips on state business that exceed 100 miles.

"Well you don't have the maintenance. You can negotiate a deal and say everyone has to take a mid-size or a small mid-sized car. You can probably get that rental for 25 or 27 bucks per day," said Del. Ron Walters, (R) Kanawha.

State leaders tell us they are open to renting at least some vehicles.

"You also - I think - need to consider the needs of the agencies and the employees that are driving these cars, whether it's someone who has to have 24/7 very quick access to a vehicle," said Dept, of Administration Secretary Pickens.

The state does sell it's used vehicles after 4-years to make back some of the money.

"And there may be good news for government watchdogs. The state of West Virginia only bought 400 new cars last year. That's down from 800 cars purchased in each of the previous two years," said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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