RIVERSIDE, CA - Based on the recent findings of a Riverside County audit revealing fleet is costly and too big, county supervisors plan to cut fleet in half by implementing a stricter take-home policy, reported The Press-Enterprise.

Cited as one of the largest fleets in the state of California, the county maintains a fleet of about 5,300 vehicles at a cost of about $43.7 million a year, the report said. That cost includes vehicle payments, maintenance, and fuel expenses.

The audit advises that the county could save an estimated $2.3 million by reducing the numbers of cars employees take home each night, better tracking county car use, and limiting the size of the fleet.

Currently, county-authorized employees take home 1,055 or about one in every five county cars in the fleet. Those employees' daily commutes alone cost the county an estimated $4.7 million annually for gas and maintenance, the report said. In addition, a surprise audit inspection found about 130 cars missing from their designated overnight parking spots, suggesting employees may be driving cars home without authorization, the report said.

Under the approved recommended policy, take-home cars will be limited to employees whose jobs may require them to respond to after-hour emergencies.

The executive office said the changes should cut in half the number of take-home cars in the county and could save more than $2.2 million -- most of it in public safety departments.

The new policy does not apply to supervisors' cars or county cars driven by high-ranking officials as part of their compensation plans.

The audit also recommended revising policy to ensure the county does not acquire new vehicles while ones on hand remain underused. The executive office said it plans to submit a policy revision for supervisors' approval by Oct. 20. The county has reportedly frozen new fleet purchases and already begun selling off underutilized vehicles, according to the Enterprise.

A sample of 2,000 passenger fleet vehicles reviewed in the audit found more than one-third did not meet the minimum mileage of 7,200 miles per year, and resulted in a loss of more than $700,000 in fixed costs, according to the Enterprise.