Commission takes action on stockpiled cars

New procedures surround Miami-Dade's purchase of vehicles

MIAMI - After a Local 10 investigation revealed dozens of Miami-Dade County-owned vehicles sitting idle, the mayor and commissioners have called for changes in the way the county does business.

Miami-Dade County will soon have a new policy before it adds to its fleet of 7,000 vehicles: No new cars will be bought unless they are approved by those at the top.

Last month, Local 10 reported that 157-plus county-owned vehicles, some bought in 2006 and 2007, have never been used and are sitting idle at a Metrorail station. The county said it reduced its fleet but had already taken the vehicles, which it planned to eventually put into service. But, the county bought even more vehicles in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Some county commissioners expressed concern and outrage at a meeting Tuesday.

"Don't buy any car if there's no need for a car," said Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. 

"The system has problems. There seems to be corruption here at different places. The commissioners, we don't have all the answers. We don't know," said Commissioner Javier Souto.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that now, when the county buys vehicles, administrators and commissioners will receive a full inventory of what the county owns before the purchase is made.

Commissioner Sally Heyman took it a step further, saying she wants to draw up a resolution to make it a rule, not just an agreement.

"I want to make sure from this, seize a learning opportunity and go one step further, make sure that whatever elements come into play, we are prepared to prevent future ones, and not just administratively," Heyman said.

Heyman must still draft the resolution, which must be passed by a majority of the commissioners in order to take effect.

Also at issue Tuesday was the county's purchase last month of 121 new police cars. There are currently 37 police cars in the garage that were bought in 2010.

The commissioners discussed whether to reconsider and cancel the order, but because 900 county police cars have more than 100,000 miles on them, the commissioners decided to continue with the order.

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