January 31, 2006

How to Save Another $1.5M

The Star-Ledger reports today that the appointed Union County Manager still needs a four-wheel drive vehicle to get him to work in inclement weather in an emergency. He turned in his Chevy Suburban (list price $47,920) for something smaller in the “New Year” - meaning 2006, when the county budget is expected to increase another 5.3 percent which would make it a 45 percent increase since the board turned all-Democrat. That increase doesn’t include the Open Space Trust Fund Scam.

Devanney, who happens to be Sen. Ray Lesniak’s nephew, is now driving a 2005 Durango (list price $36,210 without extras). Our deputy county manager also gets to drive a Ford Explorer. Most counties do without deputy county managers. Isn’t it nice to know that we lucky Union County taxpayers not only have two managers but both have bohemoth vehicles to come to our resuce in the worst weather?

The county managers join the director of Mosquito Control, Shade Tree commissioner and the director of Golf Operations in needing access to four-wheel drive vehicles.

Frank Guzzo, who is in charge of the Juvenile Detention Center, is prepared for any emergency with a Ford Explorer. I suppose it’s bound to happen that a kid could hang himself during a snow storm, and Guzzo might want to show up before the State’s Child Advocate arrives.

Since freeholders are only available to be quoted in fluff articles, the county spokesman was quoted in the Ledger article saying that “by giving up 12 vehicles the county is saving the taxpayers $24,000 annually." According to that math, the 357 vehicles county employees drive are costing taxpayers approximately $720,000. That figure doesn’t include maintenance or insurance - figures that the county officials didn’t available for the Ledger.

I don’t’ know about you, but I wish I could ignore my bills the way the county does. The gas bill is $182,000 a year. I’d guesstemate that taxpayers are footing the bill for $1.5 million for county employees to be riding to work. Given that we live in New Jersey and not Maine, most days are pretty sunny around here. But it’s nice to know our county government is prepared to come to our rescue. They must love us so.

Now if we can only get them to stop taking those trips to Honolulu and padding pensions for the politically connected. Then we might be able to buy ourselves a brand new Durango in case we have an emergency of our own to attend to in inclement weather.

On a positive note, Freeholder Dan Sullivan turned in his Explorer right before Election Day after a Ledger article exposed his ride. Since he logged nearly 30,000 miles in the year before he turned in his vehicle, we should be grateful for the gas savings.

I know I’m being sarcastic, but I’ve heard too many rumors from too many people regarding the abuses at the county pumps. It’s unfortunate that along with not keeping figures handy for the maintenance and insurance costs of these vehicles, the county supposedly doesn’t keep track of gas full-ups by employees and family members.