A one-year renewal of a contract for Global Positioning System devices and service for vehicles in six city of Mesa departments was approved by the Mesa City Council Jan. 26.
The systems will be in vehicles in the city’s facilities maintenance, development and sustainability, solid waste, engineering, transportation and water resources departments, according to a report provided to the council.
The automatic locating-system devices will provide vehicle location, speed and stop/idle time to be used for process improvements, operational and cost efficiencies, in the event of an emergency, locating a vehicle or dispatching a nearby vehicle for assistance, according to the meeting’s agenda.
Voting for the contract with Zonar Systems Inc. at $104,500 annually were Mayor John Giles, Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh, District 3; and council members Dave Richins, District 1; Alex Finter, District 4; David Luna, District 5; and Kevin Thompson, District 6.
Councilman Thompson brought up the contract in a study session prior to the meeting, asking why it was needed for the vehicles.
“What we use it for, especially in these areas, is efficiency of routing. So we’ll take a look at how our routes are working and make sure we’re using our vehicles in the most efficient way to keep mileage down and to enhance how we provide customer service to our citizens,” Deputy City Manager John Pombier said in a live video feed on Mesa Channel 11 during the Jan. 26 Mesa City Council study session.
“The second area is safety. Our individuals, we can watch and see where they are at and if they haven’t moved for a long period of time we can check in with them and make sure everything is OK, do they have a breakdown, is there something going on that is preventing them from moving forward? It gives us a secondary check on safety,” he said.
The GPS systems can also be used for customer complaints, Mr. Pombier said.
“When customers call and have questions for us, we can verify what was going on in that area,” he said.
“My concern is that we don’t use the system in a negative way, to eavesdrop-say or Big-Brother-watch our employees and so I just want to address that and make sure that we’re not using it in a negative manner,” Councilman Thompson said.
“We stress with our supervisors that this is a tool for our productivity – it is not a tool for censorship,” Mr. Pombier said. “Can it be used from time to time in disciplinary matters? It can be and it would be untruthful to tell you it couldn’t. But that is not the goal of the system. The goal of the system is safety, customer service and efficiency,” he said.
“These are public vehicles, public employees out doing the work, so there is an accountability part to this because if we see the cars are parked too long for lunch or in other areas – and that goes to efficiency though and making sure they are being used appropriately for the public dollars,” City Manager Chris Brady said at the study session. “I think that everyone who gets into a city vehicle understands that that’s their responsibility but we don’t go beyond that; we’re not putting cameras inside the vehicles or anything like that,” he said.
Mayor John Giles on Jan. 28 said the GPS systems are needed for accountability.
“There is an accountability aspect that comes with being entrusted to the keys to a city vehicle just so that we are efficient and we know that the vehicles aren’t in one place longer than they ought to be. It is good for us to be aware of where the city vehicles are and whether or not they’re being used appropriately so that we can maximize the use of our fleet as much as possible,” he said.
In other business Jan. 26, the council voted 7-0 to approve:
•a change to a Bonus Intensity Zone in part for reduced landscape setbacks and a 2,639-square-foot addition to an existing 3,370-square-foot Power Road Animal Hospital veterinary clinic at 2333 S. Power Road.
•rezoning 33 acres on the north and south sides of the 8200 to 8400 blocks of East Ray Road to allow expansion of the Gateway Park Planned Area Development.
•rezoning the 14.22-acre Parcel 13 at Mountain Bridge, the south side of the 8800 to 8900 blocks of East McKellips Road and the 3.31-acre Parcel 16 at Mountain Bridge on the south of the 8900 to 9100 blocks of McKellips Road to allow the development of a residential subdivision for Parcel 13 and establish commercial zoning for Parcel 16.
•rezoning and a site plan review for 11.1 acres at 10309 E. Hampton Ave. to allow for the development of a medical center. Casey Carlton of Ascension Group is the applicant and V. Marshall of VJ Crismon LLC is the owner.
•rezoning 8.3 acres at 6751 S. Mountain Road to allow for the development of an industrial building. Randolph L. Carter of Sketch Architecture Co. is the applicant and Reece Bawden of Signal Butte 20 LLC is the owner.
•rezoning and a site-plan review for 5.44 acres at 8650 E. Brown Road to allow for the development of a single-residential subdivision. Sean B. Lake of Pew and Lake PLC is the applicant and Mark Funk of Bellago Development LLC is the owner.
•rezoning 79.2 acres on the north and south sides of the 8000 through 8200 blocks of East Ray Road to facilitate the development of a future employment park. John J. Gilmore is the applicant and Peter Martens of Marwest is the owner.