ST. GEORGE – In the works for at least the last five years, one of the city’s newest and potentially greener facilities is now up and running, yet it will likely go beyond the notice of most.
Three weeks ago the city of St. George’s Fleets Services opened a new facility geared toward the maintenance and repair of larger vehicles and heavy equipment, such as fire engines and trackhoes.
The new facility sports six bays designed for heavy equipment, as opposed to the single cramped bay located in the Fleet Services’ primary building off Red Hills Parkway. It is also stacked with state-of-the-art equipment and designed to be as energy efficient as possible.
And just how much did this new building and the new equipment inside of it cost city taxpayers?
Around $2.5 million, Fleet Services manager Courtney Stephens said.
“The city takes great pride in maximizing the use of taxpayer dollars,” Stephens told St. George News during a tour of the new facility Monday. Members of the City Council had toured the building previously as a part of a council meeting.
Power-saving features of the building include the roll-up bay doors that have large windows that are UV rated and allow much more natural lighting into the building.
Additional lighting in the building is handled by LED lights operating on a photo cell. This allows the lighting to brighten or dim according to the overall light detected by the photo cell.
The building also sports an air conditioning system by Coolerado that saves up to 80 percent on associated electricity costs for the building, Stephens said.
Massive fans also hang from the ceiling that help move air through the building. It can be 115 degrees outside while the building can maintain a temperature down into the 70s, Stephens said.
“This is all a state-of-the-art design for this building,” Stephens said, adding, “We have what we would call green design here. … We’ve done all those things in trying to maximize the use of our dollars.”
The building is also designed to safely vent natural gas, which is a direction the City of St. George plans to take its vehicle fleet, Support Service Director Marc Mortensen said.
The facility is also one of the examples of the direction the city is moving toward in order to become more energy efficient, Mortensen said.
“This types of building help us become more energy efficient,” Stephens said. “It helps save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
While being designed to be energy efficient, the new building also sports new state-of-the-art equipment for the city’s technicians who work on the larger vehicles and heavy equipment.
“They’re thrilled,” Stephens said. “These guys think they’ve died and gone to heaven. They’ve never seen a shop like this anywhere.”
Officials from other cities and states have come to St. George to look at the new shop, Stephens said, and he’s willing to pit it against similar shops anywhere in the United States.
There are plans to add on to the shop in the future. When that comes to pass, Stephens said, much of the infrastructure is already in place on the new building, as well as underground.
The facility will be able to remain in operation as the addition is built as well, enabling Fleet Services to make sure the other city services that depend on having reliable vehicles continues uninterrupted.
Any expansion is not anticipated for a number of years, however.
Fleet Services oversees 964 pieces of equipment, Stephens said, from riding lawnmowers and police cruisers to SunTran buses, fire engines and heavy equipment. It is their job to keep those vehicles and machines running.
Still, the public rarely – if ever – deals directly with Fleet Services, even though they probably see their handiwork every day when a bus or cruiser drives by, a street sweeper cleans a road or a mower trims a golf course. This is because the division’s primary and only customer is the city of St. George.
“No one cares about us, nor should they,” Stephens said. “We don’t provide them a day-to-day service. We just keep everybody rolling.”
Technicians are certified in multiple disciplines related to their work. They are certified by Ford, Dodge and General Motors, as well as numerous auto parts vendors.
This allows them to do warranty work on vehicles in-house instead taking them to a dealership or bringing in a service technician from out of state. It’s another way the city is able to save the taxpayer’s money, Stephens said.
At nearly a thousand pieces of equipment, the city maintains the fourth-largest vehicle fleet in the state.
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