North Carolina will be closing the state motor pool Jan. 16, as part of a privatization move with an expected cost savings of $83,000 annually.
In his State of the State address last year, Gov. Pat McCrory recommended replacing the motor pool with contracts with established rental companies.
While the cost to state agencies to rent any single car will increase, with the change the overall cost to the state will decrease, Kathryn Johnston of the Department of Administration said.
State motor fleet prices have been “so inaccurately low for so long” because of the rest of Fleet Management subsidizing the costs of the motor pool, she said. “We knew internally that one side of the fund was subsidizing the other side of the fund.”
The recommendation to privatize the 150-vehicle state rental car agency came out of the North Carolina Government Efficiency and Reform (NC GEAR) effort.
NC GEAR was proposed and passed in 2013 as a comprehensive review to identify inefficiencies in the state government and propose solutions to fix identified issues.
Twenty-two recommendations came out of the effort.
NC GEAR revealed that one of the top complaints for state employees was the state of the motor pool vehicles and the difficulty involved in using the system.
“That was one of their greatest complaints that they heard,” Johnston said. “The vehicle cleanliness, the reliability, the use of the vehicles were all identified as concerns, as well as accessing and reserving and returning vehicles. Again we close at 5 p.m. and we had concerns of employees that were not able to get back and return their car in that amount of time or on the weekends.”
Many state agencies outside of the Beltline already utilize private rental agencies due to the time and expense associated with driving to Raleigh to pick up a rental car from the facility on Blue Ridge Road.
The state motor pool is a smaller division of Motor Fleet Management, which includes 7,000 vehicles and has a $51 million budget. Currently 48 employees are assigned to Motor Fleet Management.
In addition to saving the state money, the move is expected to improve customer support compared to the state motor pool, which shuts down daily at 5 p.m. and is not open on weekends. By contracting with private rental agencies, state employees will have customer support access 24/7.
Private entities also maintain newer cars than the state motor pool, where the average age of a vehicle is five years. The average mileage of the vehicles in the state motor pool is 50,000 miles, ranging between 200 miles and 162,000 miles.
The change will also cut down on repair costs, which are about $2,000 per vehicle annually.
The state will maintain 20-30 vehicles for emergencies, which mirrors what the motor pool originally began as – a supply of vehicles for emergencies.
The state was able to negotiate existing contracts for state agencies in other areas of the state with private rental agencies, saving an additional $147,854.
The motor pool’s 108 vehicles will mostly be assigned to the Department of Public Safety next week.