Mayor says technology also will decrease fuel consumption
City Hall is watching. With a new GPS system, Jasper employees like Tara Benson can pinpoint where any of their vehicles are located. The system also keeps a log of vehicles’ travels and speed.
According to Jasper Mayor John Weaver, a GPS tracking system being installed on the City of Jasper’s 73 tagged vehicles will not only reduce fuel costs and excessive mileage, but will also help prevent wear and tear and increase employee accountability.
The system will be able to track vehicles in real time, as well as provide information about preventative maintenance schedules, speed, and a full data history. A main monitoring screen will allow the mayor and department supervisors to locate every vehicle in the fleet, 24-hours a day.
“People might not like working for the city of Jasper,” Weaver said at the February council meeting, “and I might have some fallout because of it, but I’ve been chasing folks around trying to figure out where employees are for 21 years.”
Weaver recently visited a business that had GPS tracking on its fleet and he was so impressed he quickly moved to introduce the idea to council, which ultimately agreed to fund the project for the terms of a three-year contract.
“I realized that the city of Jasper has 73 tagged vehicles, heavy equipment, and a need to maintain and know where that equipment is at all times,” Weaver said. “Our base operation could dispatch and watch when a city invoice went into maintenance, when that person left, how long it took that person, and where he was - and if we have to coordinate for a storm we would know what equipment we have readily available.”
Weaver said being able to track the speed of city vehicles will also allow him to mitigate complaints much more efficiently.
“Last Monday I had a call where a citizen reported a city utility truck going 70 mph past Tate Elementary,” Weaver said. “I spent the next hour and a half tracking down that tag number and turns out it wasn’t the city of Jasper.”
Councilmember John Foust said he sees more value in the tracking system’s ability to increase for safety of city employees.
“If something happens and we don’t know where they’re at, this will help,” he said. Councilmember Anne Morrow said having more oversight of city employees is the duty of council, who is “spending taxpayer money.”
According to Weaver, Fleetmatics offered to axe the startup cost of $7,300 and install devices at nearly half the regular price. Cost will be $35 per month per vehicle, or $2,500 a month.
Council was concerned with the cost, but Weaver said the city will forgo purchase of a $20,000 vehicle in the 2014 budget, and that he expects savings from fuel and insurance premiums to cover remaining expenses.
Council did request a monthly report of savings gained from the GPS system.
“I want council to know and the city employees to know this is not a way to snoop around on employees,” Weaver said. “If I wanted to snoop around on employees we would have done this covertly. We want the employees to be accountable to the city of Jasper. I want to know exactly how much fuel it takes to run the fleet for the city instead of guessing because someone leaves their car idling while they go pick up a donut or go by Walmart without asking their supervisor.”