City of Pawtucket Reducing Take-Home Vehicles

February 14, 2009

PAWTUCKET, RI – City Council President Henry Kinch Jr. is proposing changes to an ordinance regarding city-owned vehicles he says will cut the usage down by almost half, according to the Pawtucket Times.

Kinch said the proposed ordinance change will cut the number of take-home vehicles, reportedly at 23, down to 10 or 11, and estimates that the savings on gasoline and maintenance costs could amount to between $60,000 and $75,000. He added that such a savings could, in effect, save two employees from being laid-off in the current budget crisis.

Under the proposed change, the only positions in which an individual will be issued an automobile that is allowed to be garaged at their residence after established work hours are: mayor/director of public safety, police chief, majors of the police department, fire chief, assistant fire chief, director of public works, superintendent of streets and bridges, traffic engineering supervisor, director of zoning enforcement, and director of emergency management.

The amendment further states that, "All other motor vehicles belonging to the city shall be used for public business, and when not in use, shall be kept in garages provided therefore by the city."

New language also holds that, except for the 10 positions listed, "no other city vehicle shall be taken home after established work hours unless specific approval is granted by the City Council to a City Vehicle Justification Petition (CVJP) submitted by a duly authorized department head." This vehicle petition is to first be approved by the mayor or his/her designee, and the City Council is to only consider one petitioned vehicle at a time. The City Council also has the right to reconsider such petitions at any time, according to the ordinance. 

Kinch said the study committee reviewed the ordinance and removed a clause that had allowed department vehicles to be used for positions requiring "extensive travel." Also stricken was a provision that had allowed for additional vehicles, other than what was already outlined in the ordinance, to be taken home if the individual was on an "emergency call status" and if such status is related "only to matters of public safety."

Kinch also said he and other committee members have heard about numerous cases where the privilege has been abused by those who take home the vehicle. Personal use of city vehicles is not allowed under the ordinance, but the councilman said there have been reports about city vehicles being taken on vacation or used for other leisure-time activities.

The council president added that he also wants the new ordinance to adhere more strictly to state law in regard to police vehicles.  "There are people driving police vehicles who are not emergency personnel," Kinch maintained.  

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