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How the official cars come clean

Hey, no one likes a dirty car, right? But the various water bans across the area mean — for the most part — the family Ford won't be spick-and-span unless we want to cruise down to the neighborhood carwash and lay out a few bucks. Well, local government is just the opposite. Soap and water? Perhaps that fine lemon smell? A shiny wax job? Not a problem. The local fleet gets washed anywhere and almost anytime. And guess what? You're more than likely paying for it. Here's a look at some governments in the Tampa Bay area and how they keep the fleets clean.

St. Petersburg

The city spends about $11,000 a year on two contracts — one with Pronto and the other with Mariner. The contracts cover 1,200 passenger vehicles, mostly police cars, and about 1,000 washes a year.

Clearwater

The city has three contracts with local carwashes (Grand Prix Car Wash on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, Pelican in Palm Harbor, Always on Missouri) that amount to $24,000 a year for the 600 vehicles — like police cars and meter reader trucks — eligible to use them.

Pinellas County

The county in 2005 canceled its $1,560 contract with Pat-N-Polish on Missouri Avenue in Clearwater to save money. Now, departments are given purchasing cards to use, but not everyone gets reimbursed, so it's tough to say how much it now costs to wash the vehicles. The county — not counting the Sheriff's Office or the School Board — has a little more than 800 passenger vehicles in its fleet.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Deputies can take their cars to the department's Ulmerton Road vehicle maintenance shop where there is a soft-touch carwash with large roller. There, inmates assist with the cleaning. Deputies can also take their vehicles somewhere else and pay to clean them on their own. The department has more than 1,000 vehicles in its fleet.

Tampa

The city has a number of ways to wash its fleet of 1,347 passenger vehicles. Some employees wash the cars and pick up their own tab, but others can use fuel cards to pay for the tab. Last year, the city spent roughly $1,340 washing cars using the charge cards. On a side note, the city has budgeted $600,000 to build a carwash facility that also will handle large trucks.

Hillsborough County

Officials can wash their vehicles at Fleet Central on 78th Street in Tampa. Employees can also take their vehicles to the nearest carwash and use petty cash or a purchasing card, which amounted to $39,600 last year. The county has about 2,800 passenger vehicles in its fleet, but that does not count the Sheriff's Office or the School Board.

Hernando County Sheriff's Office

Deputies are responsible for keeping their own cars clean. The department has a wash station officials can use or they can simply wash them at home — all on their own dime. The department has a fleet of 242.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

In the past, some deputies have been able to use the county-owned carwash if they work out of the west side of Pasco. But those on the east who use take-home cars have to do it themselves. Deputies are provided an extra one hour of pay per pay period for equipment and maintenance to care for their vehicle. That includes washing it. County officials say "it's tough to figure out" how much the program costs because not everyone uses it.

How the official cars come clean 06/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 30, 2008 7:13pm]

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