CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A legislative interim committee is recommending a bill meant to help West Virginia government get a handle on how many vehicles are in the state fleet.

State leaders have been grappling with the numbers in the state fleet, trying to figure out how many vehicles are necessary.

There are a couple of obstacles to coming up with a definitive number.

One is that some agencies have exemptions under state purchasing laws.

Another is that there are three different agencies that keep track of state vehicles, using different methods. An audit last year concluded that the Fleet Management Office said there are 7,648 state vehicles; the Board of Risk and Insurance Management said 12,609; and the Division of Motor Vehicles said 10,504.

The bill that was recommended Tuesday by the Joint Committee on Government Operations would tinker with state code, moving the part that establishes the already-existing Fleet Management Office out of a section under purchasing requirements to a section more generally dealing with the Department of Administration.

There are a lot of exemptions to purchasing that agencies have. What this does is pull Fleet Management out of purchasing and put it in the broader Administration so a lot of the purchasing exemptions would not apply,” said committee counsel Arlie Hubbard, who explained the nuts and bolts of the bill.

The bill would also introduce a standard naming convention so there’s a consistent way to report and look up state vehicles.

And the bill would change the color pattern of state vehicle license plates from green and white to blue and gold — a move meant to ensure that old or expired plates are no longer in use.

State Delegate Mike Caputo wondered if there would be any additional costs or additional employees required to institute the proposed changes.

Hubbard responded that it’s hard to say, but reiterated that the main change would be to state code.

Gary Howell

Delegate Gary Howell, one of the co-chairmen of the committee, said he thinks the bill will help to clarify the longstanding question of how many vehicles are in the state fleet.

“If the fleet bill passes it will give us a true accounting of what vehicles the state owns,” Howell said.

“Right now the Board of Risk and Insurance Management is insuring about 12,500 vehicles. If we don’t have that many, that’s a lot of extra insurance we’re paying for.”

He added that without an accurate count, it’s impossible to track usage.

“So we don’t know if we justify owning the vehicle,” Howell said, referring to a recent state audit that concluded many state vehicles don’t meet minimum requirements for usage for a variety of reasons.

“If we’ve got half the vehicles we don’t need, that’s probably about a hundred million dollars worth of vehicles at purchase cost. That’s a huge savings for the taxpayer.”

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