The New Orleans Equipment Maintenance Division is allegedly housing dozens of unrepaired police cars and city vehicles due to the budget crisis. In some cases, they’ve sat there for months, reported The Times-Picayune.
"The real issue is budgetary," said Ryan Berni, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The Equipment Maintenance Division had a $3.2 million budget in 2009. In 2010, the division's budget has been cut by 13 percent $2.8 million, and could be cut still further by the end of the year. That means there simply isn't money available to repair cars that have been damaged in accidents, Berni said.
Police vehicles consume between 60 percent and 65 percent of the division's budget, and the Police Department is feeling the pinch.
"We've got a bunch of cars stacked up right now that need body work, but there's no one to do it," said Assistant Chief Marlon Defillo at a recent NOPD statistics meeting.
Defillo asked his police commanders to remind their officers to be careful not to get into any scrapes with their cruisers, because there's no telling when they'll get fixed. Of the NOPD's 1,376 vehicles, 78 are awaiting repair at this point, according to City records.
The city refused permission for a reporter to speak with supervisors at the plant and said the Police Department has adequate vehicles to carry out routine operations.
Battered police cars made up the majority of abandoned vehicles at the plant on a recent afternoon, though the yard also featured ambulances, fire trucks, and street sweeping machines.
Mayor Landrieu is set to release his 2011 budget in the fall.
[via Government Fleet]
Photo courtesy of Ron Riering and re-used under the Creative Commons license.