West Allis considers rent-a-car idea to save money

At least two aldermen see value in policy used by some firms for business trips

Sept. 11, 2013

West Allis — Alderman Michael May, who saved the company he works for $125 by renting a car instead of driving his own on a business trip, wants the city to be able to pull off that kind of savings, as well.

He and Alderwoman Cathleen Probst have proposed having city employees do the same for long trips on city business.

If he had used his own vehicle, May said his one-day trip to Wausau and back would have cost his company $210 using the reimbursement rate of 56.5 cents per mile allowed under federal guidelines. By comparison, the cost of renting a car cost $85, including gas, for his business trip.

"I saved the company $125," he said.

May said his company has a policy that cars are to be rented if the trip is longer than a certain distance. It saves the company money, and he found other companies with similar policies, he added.

The Common Council Administration and Finance Committee looked the idea over last week and sent it to staff for more specifics. It's slated to come before the committee and the council on Tuesday.

May said the proposal already takes additional staff time into consideration.

The rental company would deliver the car, the employee would do a walk around to check for damage and then fill the tank with gas, he said. It would then only take five minutes to put it onto the expense sheet. He is allowing a half hour total staff time, May said.

With that in mind, the point at which it starts to make sense to rent a car instead of having employees drive their own cars would be a one-day 150-mile round trip, a two-day 225-mile round trip, a three-day 300-mile round trip and so on, adding 75 miles for every day of the trip, he said.

At this early stage of discussion, one concern was who would be responsible for insurance — the city, the employee or the rental company — and whether enough would be saved to make renting worth the extra staff time.

"If they're going to save money, I want to see how much they're going to save," said Alderwoman Rosalie Reinke.

Probst said the effort is worthwhile.

"It's all about efficiency and cost savings," she said. "Any cost savings that makes sense is a good idea."

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