PALATKA, FL – Policies vary on the personal use of government vehicles in Putnam County, including the employee’s job and for which agency or department the employee works, according to results of research by the Daily News, according to the Palatka Daily News.
Putnam County allows some employees to take their vehicles home to increase efficiency, according to Rick Leary, Putnam County administrator. Leary said he was offered a county vehicle but chose to use his own and be reimbursed.
County employees who take their vehicles home are not allowed leave the county with the vehicle unless it is on official business.
According to Gary Armstrong, Putnam County’s fleet manager, the county has about 720 vehicles including bulldozers. Maintaining and fueling those vehicles costs almost $300,000 per year. He said employees have to have a specific need before being issued a vehicle for 24-hour use.
Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies are assigned patrol cars and basically take ownership. They are responsible for damage and maintaining the inside of the vehicle. Deputies are allowed to drive their vehicles home as long as it is within the county, and they are also allowed to use their vehicles while off duty. Deputies can also transport family members in their cars as long as it is within the county. The department has 147 vehicles in its fleet and most of them are kept for up to four years. Administrative vehicles, driven by detectives, are given a minimum lifespan of five years, according to the Palatka Daily News.
Putnam County Emergency Services is responsible for fueling 123 vehicles. County EMS spent $97,639 on fuel (diesel and gasoline) last year. Maintenance on the EMS fleet is performed by the county and the costs associated with those repairs are represented in the county’s budget. The department follows the county’s policy on personal use of vehicles for the EMS fleet. To save fuel, the agency is experimenting with a Ford Escape hybrid vehicle that is used for fire support and the results have been good so far.
Palatka’s police department has 46 vehicles including two trailers used as command posts. Officers are allowed to take their vehicles home only if it is within a 10-mile radius of the city. To save money, the department is leasing its vehicles and tries to keep them fewer than 40,000 miles before turning them in.