A number of council members expressed a wish to have city employees who utilize city cars to–and–fro from work to fork up cash for gas and vehicle maintenance.
During the city council meeting on Tuesday council members discussed a new fuel management system and software the city is purchasing for $19,187 from a Middlesex based company. The Gasboy system being purchased from Whitemarsh Corporation will allow the city to better track gas consumption habits of its employees, said Charles Thomas, the city’s business administrator.
“The problem we have is with those who have the ability to take their vehicles home,” said Rigo Rodriguez, councilman at-large. Rodriguez said employees who take city vehicles home are costing taxpayers.
“A lot of constituents on McBride Avenue complained,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, saying his constituents often call him to complain about city vehicles parked on the streets at night.
“Why is it a policy that we allow folks to take the city’s vehicle home?” asked Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman.
The business administrator said city policy allows some employees to take their vehicles home because garages where city owned vehicles ought to be parked close after certain time of the night.
“The policy should be, there’s a usage based system, if you’re going to use our vehicle it costs us something, and you need to reimburse us for the cost from home to work,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. “We should not be paying for employees commute from home to job.”
“If you work for us and we give you the vehicle, you should be somehow responsible for the commute,” said Rodriguez.
Thomas said with the new system the city can generate reports by department, vehicle, and employee. The business administrator said, the city can determine average gas mileage for each employees and set that into the system as a restriction, so that when a department sees a spike action can be taken to correct the abuse.
“Once we determine the average usage, we can put that restriction into the system,” said Thomas. “It has mechanisms that will allow for the individual not to receive gas, if for example they fail to meet the maintenance requirements for the vehicle.”
Tavarez asked Thomas whether the city had completed an analysis to determine the cost between keeping a garage open versus gas plus cost of wear and tear on vehicles when employees drive them back and forth between work and home. Thomas said the city did no such cost benefit analysis.
Tavarez suggested the city do what corporations do with cell phones: charge employees a small fee for personal usage. McKoy too suggested a similar measure be put in place. He said, those who take city vehicles home should pay a fee to cover city’s expenses, while “other employees, if you don’t want to pay that charge, park your vehicles in a city garage and take your vehicle home.”