Polk County, FL to Reward Employees for Eco-Driving
Source: The Ledger
by Tom Palmer
The Polk County government’s yearlong fuel-saving campaign has done better than expected, and some of the savings will be going back into the pockets of the employees who helped make it happen.
“The employees have embraced this; the results are evident,” said Fleet Manager Bob Stanton. “I expected a 5 to 7 percent savings, but we had 11 percent.”
County officials launched the fuel-saving campaign in July 2008, when motorists were paying $4 per gallon at the pump and declining revenues were already forcing county officials to look for ways to cut costs.
At the time, County Manager Mike Herr estimated the program, which included measures such as keeping speeds to 55 mph and reducing unnecessary engine idling, could save $130,000 per year.
Stanton said the actual savings was $502,000.
He said he came up with that total by calculating the difference in fuel usage from the past year.
He said the bonuses, which could be as high as $300, will be distributed in October.
Those eligible will be any of the 150 employees – about 10 percent of the drivers of county fleet vehicles – who signed up for a training session last October and who complied with conditions such as bringing the vehicles in for regular service and not having any preventable accidents.
They also have to have achieved at least a 5 percent fuel savings, Stanton said.
At the time the fuel-saving campaign was announced, there was no mention of any bonuses for employees who complied with Herr’s directive.
Stanton said he came up with the incentive program along with the “eco-driving techniques” educational program, explaining he feels the incentive “guarantees a greater level of success” than simply ordering employees to change their practices.
Meanwhile, that is not the only step Stanton said he’s taken to reduce operating costs.
He said the county is buying smaller trucks. It has bought three electric-powered trucks and one propane-powered truck. That has resulted in savings.
Stanton said an electric truck costs 2 cents per mile to operate, compared with 18 cents per mile for a conventional truck.
He said the county will buy more energy-saving vehicles.
“Under the current budget, we aren’t buying any vehicles,” he said, but said that will change eventually.