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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Municipal vehicle use needs tighter control

The Trentonian is reporting that City Council members have effectively killed a plan to purchase 10 gas-guzzling Ford Explorers for the city police department, citing the fuel efficiency of the vehicles, the current economic climate, and Trenton’s portrayal as an allegedly “green” city.

“If Trenton really intends to move toward being a green city, then we need to begin purchasing energy conservative,” said Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, to the Trentonian. “In fact, we need to re-examine our entire fleet of city vehicles.”

The killing of this $240,000 expenditure provides the perfect segue into a reexamination of the city’s vehicle policy, which currently allows many department directors and other personnel to use take-home vehicles so they can rush to the scene of off-hour emergencies in the city.

Few if any of these city employees actually need such a vehicle, in case of emergencies, since many of them are required to live in the city by law and few of their positions actually require dealing with off-hour emergencies.

There is also rampant evidence that many of these vehicles are being abused by favored employees in the city government, like the SUV used by Communications Director Irving Bradley to commute up to his home in Rahway, and the Ford Crown Victoria that the same Mr. Bradley totaled in a car accident 20 miles outside of Trenton.

Trenton City Council needs to immediately move to pass an ordinance that reins in such abuses, by keeping city vehicles in the city, and forcing employees using city vehicles to maintain a detailed log of exactly how they are using city-owned cars.

Those logs should be included in documents readily available at the City Clerk’s office for view by members of the public.

City employees in positions that really do not require the usage of a city vehicle during non-work hours need to be informed that they will have to report to the city lot to pick up their city vehicle before work and return it at the conclusion of the work day, or stop using city transportation altogether.

Trenton and other cities can no longer afford to provide vehicles and gasoline to city employees who simply do not require taxpayer-funded transportation for carrying out their duties effectively.

They are here to serve the taxpayers, and not to be served with excessive job perks made possible through taxpayer-supported funding.

1 comment:

Old Mill Hill said...

I could be mistaken on this, but I believe that use of a "company" (in this case, city of Trenton) vehicle is taxable as a perc or benefit in some instances. This would mean that the employees (or paid consultants) with "take home" cars might have to claim the cash value of that benefit on their income taxes.

Many companies mandate that employees provided with corporate vehicles keep a detailed log on the use (and maintenance) of same.

The city of Trenton should require no less.