Certification of shop technicians and the ability to handle budget cuts were big reasons the city of Boise's management of police, fire, parks, airport and other vehicles won this year's top honor for government fleets.
The award was bestowed by Government Fleet magazine, a publication that covers issues relating to the management of vehicles and equipment owned by local, state and federal government agencies throughout the country.
Boise is no stranger to the top tiers of this contest. It took second place last year. The city's success in this arena dates to the Great Recession, when it consolidated its fleet amid plunging tax revenue. Boise centralized its fleet operations under a single manager, Craig Croner; rearranged departments, moved fleet technicians to different divisions and did not fill a handful of retiree positions, according to Government Fleet.
One employee was laid off. The three-year restructuring effort reduced spending despite taking on new responsibilities, including new fire stations, a golf course and two public works sewer districts.
"Perhaps the most impressive aspect of (Boise's) fleet operation is its dedication to education," according to the magazine. "It has earned the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence, in which a minimum of 75 percent of the shop's technicians must be ASE certified. The shop must also cover all ASE certifications that pertain to the areas of service it offers on-site. At the city of Boise's fleet operation, 100 percent of the technical staff is certified. Eight technicians are also master certified, and four are dual-master certified."
The city hosts training seminars at least four times a year to help technicians continue their education and increase their certification levels.
"As technology changes every day, it's important to be prepared and unafraid to go back to school or to the factory to learn new skills," Craig Croner, who manages Boise's fleet, was quoted as saying in the magazine. "You have to stay ahead of new advances."