City Council members asked Richmond’s fleet operations manager to address the lack of hydraulic lifts at the department’s new $4.5 million garage on Commerce Road, a shortcoming that has frustrated mechanics there.
Several employees complained that the new facility, which the city purchased in November, couldn’t accommodate the lifts because of utilities built into its concrete floor. Mechanics have been left to hand-crank vehicles and do repairs on the ground under jack stands since operations were moved in May.
An employee says falling behind has led the shop to outsource more work to private shops. The situation was first reported in Style Weekly last week.
“Yes, I read the article,” fleet operations manager Mike Biggs tells council members during a committee meeting last week. “Yes, those were my employees. But yes, they’d also been told a number of times they’d be getting lifts.”
Biggs says the lack of lifts has impeded his employees’ work, and that the department has been “a little behind” addressing the issue. He blames problems obtaining quotes through the city’s management software, but says the department has a plan to have some lifts installed in the next two weeks.
Biggs says his department faces larger issues, including personnel shortages and an aging fleet that is “not in good shape.”
“I know some of my folks’ morale is low,” he says. “That’s probably why we got that newspaper article. …“The vehicles are falling to pieces on us. I don’t know any other way to put it: They are just falling to pieces.”