In 2003, in an attempt to make state government leaner, the governor disbanded Kansas’ auto pool and ordered hundreds of vehicles to be sold, The Star Topeka (Kansas City) reports. The decision gave the state a one-time savings of $24.5 million. But four years later, the state is spending almost exactly the amount on vehicles as it did before the change, thanks to vehicle rentals and increases in gas prices. A recent study by the state auditors shows the state spent $37.5 million on vehicles in 2003, before the changes, and $37.3 million in 2006. Where once the state paid to buy and maintain vehicles, it is now paying to rent them and it is paying employees more for the use of their personal vehicles. As gas prices have gone up, so, too, has the per-mile reimbursement rate for employees, now at 40 cents. The study found some departments were paying between $600 and $860 a month to rent a vehicle. The state has a contract with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. According to The Star Topeka, before the 2003 changes, state workers drove 232,524 miles in rented cars. In 2006, they drove 4.9 million miles in rented cars. The Department of Health and Environment, for instance, had 14 vehicles rented for five or more consecutive months; the average rental was for 10 months and cost $9,200. Once state auditors realized the problem, the state moved to stop long-term rentals.
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