Government Fleet Top News

King County Council Adopts Uniform Reimbursement Program

July 13, 2005

SEATTLE, WA – No longer will members of the King County Council be reimbursed more per mile for driving their personal SUVs on county business than other council members who drive smaller cars, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.A recent change in official policy, which now applies the same mileage reimbursement rate to any personal car used by a council member for county business, was prompted by a TV news report this spring detailing the council's long-standing policy of paying out more for bigger vehicles, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.The net effect of the change will be to reduce the money most King County council members are paid for personal vehicle use.For example, Jane Hague, of Bellevue, gets $547.20 a month for the 1,000 miles she estimates she drives her own SUV on council business monthly. Under the new policy, she would get $405, or 40.5 cents a mile, if she itemized individual trips adding up to 1,000 miles. But she'll receive 90 percent of that, or $364.50, if she continues to estimate her official travel at 1,000 miles a month, which council staff members report she will do.David Irons, of Sammamish, will get more money under the new policy because he is increasing his monthly mileage estimate from 1,500 to 1,750, the staff reported.Under the old formula, Irons received $622.80 a month for driving his station wagon on county business; with the higher mileage estimate, he'll get $637.88.Pete von Reichbauer, of Federal Way, received the highest reimbursement under the old policy, driving his SUV an estimated 1,500 miles a month on council business and collecting $686.70 for it. He'll itemize under the new policy, the staff reported.The old policy was adopted in 1981. It calculated monthly reimbursements based on two factors: the replacement value of the vehicle as determined by the county motor pool pro-rated over several years and a mileage rate. In both cases, the amount increased for each of four categories of vehicles, from compact cars to SUVs. For example, in 2004, for a compact, the monthly replacement cost factor was $178 and the mileage rate was 14.5 cents per mile. For an SUV, the equivalent amounts were $298 and 31 cents.Council members could estimate their mileage without itemizing, and still may. Miles driven in commuting between members' homes and the council offices in downtown Seattle are not eligible for reimbursement.In Snohomish County, Wash., council members receive a flat $461 a month for official use of their personal cars, officials said. In Pierce County, Wash., they may itemize, but all take the flat payment of $270 a month, officials said, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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