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December 22, 2014

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ANSWERS: CLARK COUNTY:

Hundreds of vehicles to get GPS devices

Gadgets will show where county workers are, not just help them get there

Clark County is a few weeks away from finishing the installation of Global Positioning System units in a few hundred more of its vehicles.

Is this a major expenditure at a time when the county is trying to save money?

County spokeswoman Jennifer Knight said the county is paying for it all with revenue from its road fund, which is generated by a tax on gasoline. The cost to install and monitor the 288 new units is $356,206.40.

How many county vehicles will have GPS units when these new ones are installed, and which county vehicles?

According to Knight: Of the 288 new units being installed, 246 are for public works vehicles and 42 are for animal control vehicles. The total number of county vehicles with GPS units will be 601 when installation is complete. The other units are on building and development services and Fire Department vehicles. Per month, the cost to monitor and maintain all 601 units is $29.95 each, or about $18,000 a month and $216,000 a year.

And the county needs these expensive gadgets why?

The Global Positioning System devices will allow the users to take advantage of satellite technology to accurately determine their locations.

Could a map do that for a lot less money?

It could, but it is more susceptible to human error. And GPS is instantaneous. In part, the impetus for installing more GPS units came from the Kessler International audit of the county’s Development Services Building Division and Fire Department complaint process. Released in March 2008, the Kessler report noted that GPS units currently installed might not be used to their fullest potential. The report’s authors recommended “spot checks” to be sure that building inspector reports match up with GPS reports “to ascertain that what the inspector claims to be doing is reflected.” Did I mention that these GPS units should also allow the county to keep very accurate track of the locations of all these vehicles?

Ah ha! Is that the real reason for installing them?

Well, some county employees think so. They figure it means their bosses don’t trust them. But the county brass are not saying that.

Well, does the brass figure this will save taxpayer money in the long run, by forcing county workers to do more work?

Knight put it this way: The units benefit taxpayers by creating a way to see where vehicles are located, which then allows the county to make sure it is deploying county personnel to the areas of most immediate need in the most efficient way possible. “It allows us greater efficiency of county resources, to follow up on complaints made against employees and to monitor where units are (in an emergency) if communications fail.”

Do any of the Clark County commissioners have any insight into this?

Steve Sisolak says that when he sat on the board of the Taxi Cab Authority, cab companies saw increased productivity when cabs had GPS units installed. So while he understands that some taxpayers might look askance at startup costs, “if it’s going to increase efficiency, I think it’s worth doing.”

•••

Speaking of Sisolak, he did identify a proposed expenditure he will challenge — contract renewal for a lobbyist who works on behalf of the Clark County airport system.

The county hires many different lobbyists. Why is he going after this one?

Sisolak says he’s not targeting this one, but is looking at all contracts the county has with lobbyists. This one is coming up for renewal Tuesday.

“I’m concerned about the spiraling costs of these lobbyists, and that they are not put out to bid,” Sisolak said. “I’ve got lots of questions about them, and that’s just one.”

Why aren’t they put out to bid, to see if someone might offer to do the work for less money?

In background notes, county staff wrote that state statutes do not require the county to seek competitive bids for this type of lobbying contract “because the services to be performed are professional in nature.”

Who is this airport lobbyist, and how much is the bill?

The contract is with the Washington, D.C., firm Marcus G. Faust. The one-year renewal will not exceed an estimated amount of $200,000 plus “verifiable incidental out-of-pocket expenses, travel, lodging, meals, hourly costs for over 34 hours each calendar month at contract rates, and miscellaneous expenses.”

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