County Departments: Eliminating Take-Home Cars Costs Money

Departments Say Without Cars, Productivity Suffers

MIAMI - As Miami-Dade County eliminates about 300 take-home cars after a Local 10 investigation, some county departments said cutting out the take-home cars would damage their productivity.

Those departments claim that the public perception is wrong, that county take-home vehicles are not a perk or a reward but a benefit to taxpayers.

The Miami-Dade Consumer Services Department claims that allowing employees to take their vehicles home is beneficial to the taxpayers, saying that work hours would be wasted if the employees had to drop off and pick up county vehicles in a parking lot.

"We're wasting two hours of productivity, approximately, that these people could be out there doing their inspections," said Alejandra Castro-Nunez, of the Miami-Dade Consumer Services Department.

Consumer Services enforcement officers inspect vehicle repair shops, taxis, buses, limousines, locksmiths, private ambulances, tow truck operators and moving companies. The department said that if its 32 inspectors had to pick up the cars instead of taking them home, they would lose two work hours apiece.

"That's about over 300 inspections that we're losing by just having them come here to pick up a car. It doesn't make sense," Castro-Nunez said.

The Building and Neighborhood Compliance Department, whose enforcement officers inspect buildings, roofing, plumbing and unsafe structures, agreed. It sends 119 county vehicles home with officers.

The department claims 100 inspections a day could be lost by not allowing vehicles to go home with employees. Its director told Mayor Carlos Gimenez he would have to hire additional workers at a cost of $500,000 to maintain the current work and case load without the vehicles.

Gimenez will make the final decision. He is reviewing the take-home car policy.

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