Election 2021

Should Philly create a new department dedicated to managing city-owned vehicles? (Ballot question)

The current Office of Fleet Management oversees more than 6,000 cars and trucks, but could theoretically be dissolved by the mayor.

The Streets Department converts sanitation trucks into snow plows when needed

The Streets Department converts sanitation trucks into snow plows when needed

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY
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Find the full procrastinator’s guide to the November 2021 election here.

When Mayor Ed Rendell assumed office in 1992, his administration didn’t even know how many vehicles the city owned. To centralize management across all departments, he created the Office of Fleet Management in 1993, establishing it within the Mayor’s Office.

The city’s Office of Fleet Management currently buys and maintains over 6,000 vehicles for 43 city departments, a fleet which includes everything from ambulances and snow plows to police cruisers and garbage trucks. The office is also charged with managing 16 repair facilities and 61 fuel sites throughout the city.

Since its creation, the office has not been without its scandals and charges of corruption. Right now, it could, in theory, be dissolved by any incoming mayor.

What you’ll see on the ballot

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of a Department of Fleet Services, headed by a Commissioner, to manage all City-owned motor vehicles and City programs concerning alternative vehicle fuel initiatives?

What it means

A vote “yes” to this question means the city charter would be amended to establish a Department of Fleet Management as a permanent part of the city’s governing infrastructure, with its own cabinet-level commissioner.

The fleet department would be assigned duties similar to those currently performed by the Office of Fleet Management. It would manage all vehicles and vehicle-created equipment, assign vehicles to departments, and manage city fueling sites and any programs exploring the use of renewable energy and alternative fuels.

Given the scope of vehicle use, fleet management plays a significant role in city operations. For example, in the Department of Sanitation, which has struggled with a number of issues in trash collection since the pandemic began. As of July, a quarter of the city’s garbage truck fleet was out of service, with some workers claiming even those in service lacked air conditioning or heating in the cabin.

A vote “no” would mean that nothing would change, and the Office of Fleet Management would continue to operate in the same capacity as it has since being established in 1993.

What else is on the ballot

Click through for an explanation on each initiative you’ll vote on Nov. 2.

Want some more? Explore other Election 2021 stories.

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