Whatcom County Public Works' Equipment Rental and Revolving
Fund (ER&R) is responsible for the fleet management of vehicles
used by Whatcom County departments. This service, provided
to every Whatcom County department, allows county personnel
to service the greater population of Whatcom County. If you
see a vehicle bearing a Whatcom County logo or Sheriff's shield,
Public Works maintains it.
One element of fleet management is the ability of the
maintenance crew to safely repair and service priority vehicles
to ensure the safety of the public and continued operation
of other Public Works divisions and Whatcom County Departments.
It is the philosophy of the Equipment Services staff to
respond quickly, responsibly, and with excellent service.
Priorities are set for safety, crew and public impact, and
cost impact. Planning of service projects occurs around
the road crew schedule. Maintaining priority equipment
in a timely fashion allows for the least amount of down
time. Fleet management provides service for the Whatcom
County Ferry "Whatcom Chief" by assisting with dry dock
facilitation and acquisition of a passenger only ferry during
The fleet of 435 vehicles can use up to $400,000 worth
of fuel a year. The maintenance shop personnel responsible
for servicing the vehicles, complete 400 brake jobs and
service 1500 vehicles a year. Other repairs to the fleet
(completed primarily by outside vendors) include glass installation
and auto body work. The acquisition of parts, through the
Central Stores section of Equipment Services, keeps the
maintenance crew up and running.
New advances in vehicle technology require annual training
for the maintenance staff. The recent acquisition of a high
mileage gas/electric hybrid vehicle reinforced the need for
the maintenance staff to remain current with new technology
through up-to-date training.
Another key component is the reasonable replacement of
the fleet as it ages. Annual vehicle acquisition totals
approximately $1.3 million. During the annual Whatcom County
budget preparation cycle, other departments and public works
divisions may submit their request for replacement vehicles.
The rental rate paid by each department and division to
the ER&R fund for each vehicle allows for more than
just fuel usage and regular and emergency maintenance.
The rental rate also allows for the replacement of vehicles
as they age. The type of vehicle ranges from the new gas/electric
hybrid car, lawn mowers, snowplows,
and street sweepers to Sheriff's cruisers. The Equipment
Services' shop facility includes an ecologically friendly
"ozone generation plant" to purify the wastewater that accumulates
from equipment upkeep, cleaning, and maintenance. This
system balances the pH of the wastewater to the appropriate
level allowed by the Department of Ecology for water to
enter the sewer system. They also operate and maintain
the emergency response van for small spill containment and
cleanup keeping petroleum, pesticide, and other toxins from
entering the ground water, rivers, and streams until larger
response teams can get on site.
Driver safety is also an issue. While the shop crew maintains
all vehicles to a high level of safety, the administration
ensures that each vehicle driver receives the appropriate
information necessary to operate, report hazards and accidents,
and identify maintenance issues to the appropriate personnel.
Whatcom County, through its Safety and Training section,
also provides defensive driving training.
The ER&R fund is unique in the fact that the funding
is different from any other within the county. Internal
funding, setting up rental rates, rates to cover overhead,
and fleet maintenance and replacement is unique. As long
as other departments are functioning and the need is there
for materials, supplies and equipment to perform projects,
the ER&R fund will be there too. Rental Rates were
increased approximately 20% in 2002 to cover rising costs
of fuel, acquisition and maintenance.
Some of the key users of this service include Health &
Human Services, Public Works Maintenance & Operations
(Road Crew), the Sheriff's Department, the Assessor's Department,
Parks & Recreation, and Planning & Development Services.
Due to the nature of ER&R, it is necessary to receive
timely information on projects and goals of other Public Works
divisions and other Whatcom County departments. Items impacted
by other departments and Public Works divisions are fleet vehicle
purchases, hours of operation, and necessary inventory stock.