Some state workers in Vermont are questioning the prudence of the state’s year-old Fleet Management Services program, according to an August 14 story in the Barre/Montpelier Times Argus. The program was created to save money and reduce emissions. Earlier this year, the state began requiring many employees who need to drive to a meeting or a work site to use state-provided vehicles rather than collecting 40.5 cents a mile to drive their own cars. Employees, speaking anonymously, said the program has led them to spend more time making arrangements for vehicles and, in some cases, make extra trips to pick one up. Others say restrictions on use of vehicles, such as a single-driver rule, mean more miles on a car than needed. The program, run by five state employees, makes available 75 Ford Focus sedans and wagons and 25 Honda Civic hybrids to state employees. The state spent $1.2 million on the vehicles. The state rents the vehicles to an employee's department for $22 a day for up to 90 miles, 25 cents a mile after that. Like a rental agency, penalties can be assessed if it's not returned to the right location or with at least a half a tank of gas. For short trips – fewer than 54 miles – employees can drive their own vehicles as that works out to about $22. If state cars aren't available (which is often because there aren't enough vehicles to go around) staffers are told to rent from a local Enterprise Rent-A-Car at a discounted rate. State employees are complaining about the arrangement, the small size of the state cars and the strong policy language, according to the Argus story. They worry about winter driving and having to park their four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicles to hop into front-wheel drive Focuses and about the cost of paying state workers to drive to another town to rent cars. But Tom Sandretto, deputy commissioner of the state's Department of Buildings and General Services, said the new program is saving money. He said the expectation is that employees figure out which option is cheaper – driving their own car, a state car or renting – and pick that option. Despite the logistical challenges, many state departments think the program will save money, the article said.
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