May 12, 2007

Just How Many People Hold the KEY to Your Wallet

How comforting it is to know that the Union County Director of Finance is so dedicated an employee that he can be found on the job at his “satellite work station” located at a local fitness center on weekdays at 5:45AM. Check out the Vehicle Lists
Evidenced by the repeated presence of the county owned 2003, Ford Crown Victoria issued to him at taxpayer expense, complete with gas and insurance one is left to marvel at the mental and physical dexterity of a guy who can balance the county’s books while doing his cardio, I must confess I am jealous.

The vehicle and driver appear on the County of Union “Portal to Portal” vehicle list along with several other directors to include the county Tax Administrator and the Director of Administrative Services. Also making the cut, according to the Laws of UC are the County Manager, Deputy Manager, Counsel and County Clerk.

County policy for the “use of an assigned vehicle by an employee shall be limited to official county business, and said vehicle shall not be used for personal purposes with the exception of authorized commuting use to and from the employee’s workstation” according to Res. No 69-86. Further, nonmotor pool vehicle usage outside of normal working hours and on weekends must be justified in written detail and approved.

Publications of the US government to include the IRS and Dept. of Labor refer to Portal to Portal as meaning door to door, from home to work and back specifically for those employees who are “on call” 24/7 or a portion thereof, or from home to job site to job site and back home again. And there are intricate reporting rules regulating what portion of employer owned vehicle use should be reported as personal taxable income and when those vehicle’s expenses can be taken as a tax deduction.

It must be noted that the sightings in question, which occur on a regular basis, come via an outraged taxpayer who is doubtful that the director is on his way to work since he does not carry a gym bag or extra clothes; rather he arrives and departs wearing his workout attire. This has led to the question: “are the tax payers now footing the bill and providing county employees showers at the office?”

And what of damage to the vehicle when being used for non county business, as was the case with Assemblyman/State Democratic Chairman/Union Township Dem Committee Chair/Undersheriff Cryan’s county owned car while it was parked in a Trenton parking garage last year, just who pays for that?

The use of county owned vehicles for personal purposes is the same as stealing in my book, especially with the cost of gas and auto insurance these days, it is not only dishonest but unethical as well. What happened to the governor’s reform on ethics, are county employees exempt from this reform?

69 Vehicles X 10 miles a week X 52 Weeks a year Equals 35,000 miles ++++

There are, according to available county reports, at least 69 “portal to portal” vehicles; imagine if each one clocked only 10 miles per week for what can be called illegal personal use, that would conservatively calculate to over 35,000 free miles a year to go to the gym, grocery store or visit grandma all on the tax payers dime.

Union County residents are urged to think of this county worker every time they go to the pumps and shell out $3.00 a gallon or more for gas this summer just so they can go to work to earn enough so he can say “fill’er up” for free.

Definitely think of him as holding the key to your wallet when you go to the voting booth in the upcoming primary election and again in November.