What looks like a new car lot in the parking area of Hillsboro’s Hi-Tec center is actually a new fleet of cars for Highland County Job and Family Services, which Director Katie Adams said will ultimately save the county about $17,000 a year.
Highland County Commissioners on Wednesday approved a proposal for the delivery of a 12-vehicle fleet several weeks ago, entering into a fleet management contract with Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Adams said that a pair of Chrysler minivans will join the 10 Nissan Sentras “sometime around the end of next week.”
Adams said conversations with Judy Eschmann, the Clermont County JFS director, gave her the confidence to propose the lease arrangement to commissioners.
“About a year ago, Clermont entered into a contract with Enterprise,” Adams said, “and she said it was a tremendous savings to her, so we had some meetings with them and ran the numbers on our mileage, and the short answer is it’s a $17,000 savings to the agency per year.”
She told commissioners that her agency in 2017 paid out more than $73,000 in mileage reimbursements across all departments, mostly in the child protection division.
At this point in the year, JFS is on track to match and exceed the 2017 figure, which she said was the highest payout ever in the agency’s history.
With children placed all over the state of Ohio, Adams said JFS has case workers going in every direction every day using their personal car to transport clients and children.
“We still have two vans in our agency, and neither one of them are really reliable enough for travel outside the county,” she said. “A Ford Fusion was purchased in 2016, but it’s just one car and we have 16 childrens service workers having to go all over the place.”
The cost benefit, she said, will be more of a savings to the child protection division since the mileage reimbursements fall on that department more directly.
“With this being an agency contract,” she said, “we can distribute the costs to all three program areas, so child support, income maintenance and child protection will all three share in the costs, rather than the burden falling on just one department.”
Another cost savings will be realized in JFS’s fiscal department, since it won’t be involved with verifying mileage and correcting discrepancies — a process that Adams said used to take several days every month.
She also said that each vehicle will be equipped with a GPS tracker, allowing the office to know where every vehicle is every day at any given time.
Adams said another reason for the fleet contract was safety concerns with personal vehicles.
“We don’t know what the maintenance is like on (caseworkers’ personal) cars,” she said. “They could be in Toledo and break down, so then we have to figure out a way to get them back. This way we’re assured that the cars are up to date on maintenance, they’re all covered on county insurance, and all of those concerns are rolled into the contract.”
Adams told The Times-Gazette the 12 new vehicles will be ready for the road by the middle of November.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.