EDITORIAL: Cost of take-home vehicles hits home

2013-06-26T16:03:00Z 2013-06-26T17:43:06Z EDITORIAL: Cost of take-home vehicles hits home nwitimes.com
June 26, 2013 4:03 pm  • 

Lake County officials' attention span — Squirrel! — can be limited. That's why it's important for the county commissioners to haul out the policy on take-home cars again, tweak it as necessary, and put it in front of other elected officials again.

"There's been some abuse, and we want to stop it before it gets away from us," Commissioner Gerry Scheub said Tuesday.

Reporter Bill Dolan wrote about this issue last week, and people have taken that story to heart.

"Since Bill's article, I have had two people send in pictures already," Scheub said. 

Eight years ago, Scheub and his fellow commissioners cracked down on personal use of county-owned vehicles. The cost savings could be more than you realize.

"It's saved us a lot of money on fuel and liability," Scheub said.

Yes, liability.

When county vehicles are involved in traffic mishaps, the costs can be high. Not only are insurance premiums higher, but also potential payouts. The county paid $750,000 several years ago after an off-duty police officer in an unmarked squad car was involved in a crash that killed another driver.

Extra wear and tear on the vehicles, too, can add up. 

The debate on take-home cars rose anew last week when commissioners questioned the need for all the new police cars Sheriff John Buncich requested.

But this isn't just about the sheriff's department. All departments need to follow the rules.

County government must be more frugal than it once was. Few Lake County employees need take-home cars.

The commissioners need to downsize the fleet again, and elected officials should agree with the need to limit personal use of these vehicles.

Personal use of the vehicles not only costs the county money for fuel, but also exposes the county to potential big-bucks settlements if a county vehicle is involved in a traffic accident. Park the perks.

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