Government Fleet Top News

Massachusetts City Debates Adding Personal Use Value to Pension Costs

September 27, 2006

BEVERLY, MA – Beverly, Mass., City Councilor Bill Coughlin has submitted a proposal that calls on the Beverly City Council to oppose the inclusion of the personal-use value of a city vehicle in computing an employee’s pension payment, according to the Beverly Citizen newspaper. The goal of the vote would be “so that the City Council is on record against paying employees for vehicles.”Another councilor said a judge has decided the issue — to include the car-use in pension calculations — and the City Council can’t tell another city board to do something that differs from a court ruling.Last year, Superior Court Judge Patrick Riley ruled that former Public Safety Commissioner and Fire Chief Kenneth Pelonzi’s pension payments should be calculated to include the personal use value of the city-issued 1996 Chevrolet S10 Blazer he had while on the job. The percentage of time the vehicle was used personally went towards the pension calculation. On-the-job use was not considered worthy of compensation and was not at issue in the case. If included, the vehicle’s personal use value would increase Pelonzi’s monthly pension by $327, according to the Beverly Citizen.Including private use of a city car or truck in pension calculations could cost taxpayers thousands over the length of each pension. Also, city officials are taking stock of city-owned vehicles that are assigned to individual employees. From there, a vehicle-use policy or ordinance change will be developed, said Finance Director John Dunn, according to the Beverly Citizen. Dunn has compiled a list of city employees who personally use a city vehicle or take it home at night. And he’s collected vehicle use policies from other communities in the state.The policy will likely not address use of dump trucks during the day by public services employees, the use of police cars by patrol officers during their shift, or on-duty firefighters use of a fire truck, Dunn said.

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