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Elected officials and public works leaders are realizing the value of their fleet; thus, managing and protecting assets in that fleet has become imperative.  One thing leaders are doing to protect their fleet assets is building fleet specific facilities.  The facilities allow managers and technicians to house parts, secure vehicle keys, and work on vehicles safely and efficiently.  While a new fleet specific facility will improve efficiency, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before, during, and after the doors open. 

What to consider while planning a fleet specific facility:

  • Meet with city officials about population numbers to determine what your fleet will look like in 10, 20, even 30 years.  A growing population means more vehicles, technicians, bays and floor space, and administrative staff.
  • While planning, make a list of your priorities but be flexible and open to suggestions of others.
  • Strategically place things in the new facility to make operations more efficient. For example, placing the parts room in the middle of the shop floor could make things more efficient for technicians.  Most importantly, make the new facility work for you.
  • Determine where signs need to be placed in relation to the bays, equipment stations, emergency eyewash stations, and even parking and deliveries.
  • Reevaluate expectations and share them with your staff.  Staff can guide how the new facility can help them meet the new expectations.

What to consider after construction begins:

  • Make sure outside contractors and inspectors are doing their job.  It is much easier to ask questions or have a walk-through than it is to tear down and replace an error. 
  • Do not overlook local, state, and federal inspections.  Also, remember Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) coordination.  
  • Utility requirements, turning radius requirements, overhead clearance requirements are all unique to your facility.  Be sure YOUR requirements are being met.
  • Pay attention to things on site like erosion control, entrance, and exit accessibility, and make sure the building site is secure during off-hours.
  • Allow your staff to visit and tour the site during construction.  Staff is much more likely to take ownership of the new facility if they feel connected during the process. 

What to consider when transitioning into a new facility:

  • Determine how operations will be handled during the transition.  Can you afford for operations to be shut down during the move?
  • Evaluate your moving needs and determine whether or not your staff can move equipment and supplies or if a moving company is needed.  Vendors may also be able to assist. 
  • Determine if training is needed to get your staff up to speed in the new facility.  If so, budget that time into your move time. Also, will you need additional staff to properly operate the new facility?
  • Allow time for your staff to become acclimated to the new facility, new rules or policies, and be prepared to retrain staff if necessary. 


Scott McIver
Member, Fleet Management Committee
Fleet Manager 
City of Greenville, South Carolina. 

Eric Keenan
Senior Civil Engineer
City of Overland Park, Kansas




Many communities have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak recently, regardless of their size.  The Small Cities / Rural Communities (SC/RC) would like to share Lessons Learned about COVID-19. 

“If I Could Do It Over Again, I Would Have…”

  1. Stocked up on sanitizing supplies – I wished I would have stocked up on toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning wipes, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, etc.  We have had to get creative by purchasing hand sanitizer from a local distillery.
  1. Purchased IT supplies – We were very short on IT supplies to allow our employees to work remotely.  We had a limited supply of cameras and were unable to order them at a reasonable price.  I know someone who ordered 20 laptops for his team to work from home.  I am sure this was very costly.  Other IT items we were short on included longer network cables and headphones.
  1. Kept a stock of and rotated supplies to keep them from expiring – The only thing with stocking up is to make sure one is not hoarding.  When people start to panic, they stock up and in the end they have more than they need, preventing supplies from reaching the ones who really need them.
  1. Mobilized Emergency Management Team sooner – We would have mobilized the Emergency Management team a lot sooner.  Our Central Supply Clerk started ordering supplies, but we had no early direction from the team.
  1. Developed and performed regular updates to pandemic plans – I have spent a lot of time developing plans and identifying essential tasks and staff.  We were well-stocked on most items we needed, with the exception of masks.  We have kept all staff home, during the past three weeks, except for a few individuals who worked alone on-site, when they were required.


“Something Unique that My Community is Doing During this Crisis”

  1. Funeral Service – A fellow employee lost his father during the stay-at-home orders issued by the government.  They were not able to have a proper funeral service with extended family and friends.  Several field crew members lined Main Street by the funeral home with their hazard lights on, as the three-car funeral processional drove by.  It was our way of paying tribute to a member of our “family”.  We were there, respecting their memory, at a social distance.
  1. Public Information – Our community provided constant updates through the city’s home page and Facebook page.  Keeping the citizens informed with the facts and with decisions made at the Local, State and Federal levels.
  1. Yard Waste Alternative – Our community temporarily suspended yard debris pick up and rear yard collections.  We have started to deliver “pay as you throw” garbage bags to residents who are not comfortable with shopping for them in grocery stores.
  2. Wider Lanes – Our community converted a 2-way street to a 1-way street to provide more space for people to be active while practicing social/physical distancing. 


Today, I sit at my desk reviewing my current projects and invariably I come back to the biggest project of my life: APWA Public Works Benchmarking. At face value, this sounds like a fairly basic scope of a project. “Let’s get information together to determine the standard benchmarks for the industry… “We can just send out a survey, or call some of our learned members, or perhaps consult all the quality data and materials APWA has developed over the past century.” That’s what I thought when I started this seemingly simple undertaking. Well fellow professionals, it is not simple…it is tough! It requires a lot of work and a lot of commitment to complete this project, which has now taken over two years.

Despite the time and toil, we stay committed to it because of the importance of the goal: to provide quality information to our members to help them manage and qualify the need for resources. To put it another way, the goal of this project is to set us up for success with our fellow public safety departments who learned this game decades ago.

The Leadership and Management Committee has been working for the past two years on developing benchmarks, basic benchmarks, to assist our members in justifying and managing their programs. These benchmarks have been developed with the other technical committees to include professionals from every aspect of Public Works. Why? Because we need them. We. Need. Them.

Our world continues to evolve into a system of ones and zeros with new technology, new ways of communicating, new needs, and new things to maintain. All the while, the infrastructure of the past remains. As we continue to build upon disciplines like asset management, we continue to need quality data and information to make sound and effective decisions—not only for ourselves, but our elected officials as well.

This year, the LMC will be finalizing this project by taking the measures we have developed with our fellow technical committee members and putting this to you to provide us data and information. This process will not be easy; it will require time and effort. But again, I say we need them. We need them so you can go back to your department and determine if you need to improve. We need them because public works needs relevant, trusted statistics to present to elected officials while building budgets. We need them because we are Public Works, the first to respond and the last to leave. Because of that, we need to be the best for our citizens. We hope you support this effort and give us your time and talent to make it a success—not only for the LMC, but for all of APWA.


Chas Jordan
Past member and chair, Leadership & Management Committee


Phoenix, Arizona has quickly become a leader in solid waste management due to their innovative approach.  Members of the APWA Solid Waste Management Committee had the opportunity to visit the Phoenix, Arizona 27th Street Transfer Station where they witnessed an operation that has become a leader in sustainability.  Waste to resource, a circular economy concept, is the approach Phoenix has truly embraced and implemented with waste management, and the approach is clearly seen within their waste management facilities.

Solid Waste Committee members explain the importance of Phoenix’s approach and innovation within the field of waste management.

When difficulties arise, we must embrace innovative solutions that change the norm and enhance our communities.  Phoenix exemplifies this mindset with their circular economy incubator and Reimagine Phoenix initiative. 
-Monica Bramble, Solid Waste Management Committee Chair, Northport, Florida.

The new age of thinking about the sustainability of our planet, so that we can ensure resources and the environment are well protected for future generations, has led to a more enlightened view of solid waste management coupled with the recognition that the solid waste management industry is an economic development force. 
-Joe Giudice, Solid Waste Management Committee Member, Phoenix, Arizona

The City of Phoenix is changing the way we handle waste for the benefit of our environment. They have found ways to turn palm fronds into animal feed, they are working to turn plastics #3 - #7 back into fuel, and innovation and creativity are at the core.  If we continue to think outside of the box, the world will surely be a better place than we found it.
-Samantha Yager, Solid Waste Management Committee Member, Columbia, South Carolina

Phoenix is catalyzing the development of domestic systems to recover challenging waste streams, such as plastics 3 through 7, rather than shipping these materials to Asian markets.   These new systems will increase the U.S. recycling rate and create local U.S. jobs while decreasing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. 
-Karen Luken, Solid Waste Management Committee Member, Cincinnati, Ohio

Composting, recycling, and waste management is a critical part of maintaining public health and safety and helps to manage our environmental footprint from the items we use and consume in our daily lives.  What I saw new in Phoenix was the first steps of an organics management program that helps to manage waste regardless of the source. 
-Trent Tompkins, Solid Waste Management Committee Member, Edmonton, Alberta

Phoenix has turned a major challenge into an opportunity to capitalize.  Viewing waste materials as valuable resources is a product of policy changes, a dedicated management approach, and viewing disposal challenges as opportunities for innovation.  Taking municipal, personal, and commercial waste and turning it into products that can be sold or used by the city creates a circular economy to serve the public more efficiently putting Phoenix in a more advantageous position as the waste management landscape continues to change. 


Finished compost made from parks and landscape clippings as well as food scraps at the Phoenix, Arizona 27th Avenue Compost Facility.


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