Leflore County Supervisor Wayne Self has raised the question over whether the satellite tracking system that is used to keep up with most county vehicles is worth the money.
Certainly, it is the prerogative and duty of a supervisor to keep tabs on how the taxpayers’ money is spent. If an expense isn’t cost-justified, then it should be eliminated.
The GPS tracking, though, is well worth the expense.
Since April, the county has been spending about $4,000 per month to keep tabs on 100 vehicles, motor graders, backhoes and other motorized equipment that it owns. That comes to about $40 per month per vehicle.
GPS tracking is a great management tool. It allows managers in the county to keep up with where, when and how much vehicles and motorized equipment is being used. That information helps keep employees honest, and it allows for an efficient use of resources.
For instance, the county is in the process of deciding about the purchase of new motor graders, the equipment used to maintain gravel roads. Presently, the motor-grader fleet numbers nine. The GPS data tells precisely how many hours motor graders are being run on average. It may be that the county doesn’t really need nine of them, but can get by, for example, with seven. A new motor grader costs roughly $250,000 — or about five years’ worth of GPS tracking.
The tracking also cuts down on goofing off and misuse of county equipment. If a piece of equipment is supposed to be running but isn’t, it sends an email notifying the employee’s supervisor. If a truck that is supposed to be parked for the night is out on the road, it will send another email. If a driver is speeding, it keeps up with that, too. The GPS system lets county workers know that they are being monitored, which increases productivity and produces savings.
They also can be a potential safety feature. By knowing where equipment is at all times, managers can quickly locate an operator who might be stranded or injured.
In truth, the GPS system should be expanded to include the taxpayer-provided vehicles that Self and three of the other supervisors drive. Residents frequently complain that supervisors abuse the perk, using these vehicles for personal trips and driving them at speeds above the limit. It would be worth $160 per month to substantiate or refute those complaints.