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Non-Profit's Fleet Expenses Under Scrutiny

December 17, 2009

An Arizona non-profit behavioral health services agency is hearing criticism for its vehicle fleet that costs more than $650,000 a year for maintenance and fuel, according to the San Pedro Valley News-Sun.

Southeastern Arizona Behavioral Health Services Inc. (SEABHS) has recently come under scrutiny after its CEO was fired.

The Arizona Attorney General is investigating the CEO, Dana Johnson. A $150,000 loan Johnson received from SEABHS is a main issue in the investigation.

The investigation has prompted questions about daily operations, including the costly purchase and management of the vehicle fleet. Johnson's own car, a 2007 Cadillac SRX, was purchased with SEABHS funds.

Rose Weston, legal director for SEABHS, said the agency is mandated by law to provide a certain level of service to its clients, including transportation.

In the case, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that seriously ill adults had the right to appropriate treatment in their communities. Weston said based on this decision, a vehicle fleet is required because SEABHS must pick up students who are released from school and drive them to therapy sessions. Suicidal patients must be driven from the hospital to home and within 24 hours a welfare check is required.

SEABHS vehicle 119-vehicle inventory includes many passenger vans, but many are being purchased brand new at dealerships. Many of the vehicles are being purchased at dealerships in Tucson brand new. Only 26 cars in the fleet were purchased at a discount from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The SEABHS fleet costs the non-profit more than $650,000 a year or $5,462 per vehicle in maintenance and fuel, while the City of Benson, with an estimated 80-vehicle fleet, spent $72,428 last year, or $905 per vehicle.

One SEABHS board member feels an investigation should take place into how much the fleet is costing, and who is driving what.
The types of cars SEABHS administrators are driving is another issue. Johnson has been driving a 2007 Cadillac SRS, an administrator drives a 2007 Dodge Ram, and another administrator drives a 2008 Jeep Liberty.

Rose Weston, legal director for the agency, defended some of the administrators' choices in vehicles, stating some have personal preferences that they only be made in America, or that they meet certain standards in regards to safety.

Weston said the company discourages personal use of the company vehicles, but has told employees if they do so, it must be reported to the IRS. Hamilton said after more investigation, he wouldn't be surprised if some of the more costly vehicles are retired.

 

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