BREMERTON, WA – An audit has found that the City of Bremerton spends more to let its employees drive city-owned cars to and from work than comparably-sized municipalities with similar “take-home car” programs, according to the Kitsap Sun.

In 2006, the program’s cost to the city was close to $103,000. And the price tag may be higher for 2007 and 2008 — and not just because of the high price of gasoline, according to the audit.

Those are some of the conclusions from the report, recently released, of city-owned “take-home vehicles.” They’re cars and trucks intended for employees whose jobs sometimes require them to come into work after hours. The audit also found that:

· The 55 vehicles that went home with employees at the end of a “typical” day in 2006 ranged from heavy trucks to sedans.

· The policies governing city-owned vehicles used by employees for their commute are inadequate and those in place are not being followed.

· Bremerton’s 55 take-home vehicles in 2006 totaled almost twice as many as the city of Everett, which has nearly three times the population of Bremerton and nearly three times the number of employees.

After the audit, Mayor Cary Bozeman said department heads will report their department’s take-home-vehicle usage next month. The city is preparing its 2009 budget in anticipation of spending less — and bringing in less revenue. Meanwhile, the City Council is preparing to approve a budget adjustment to the 2008 spending plan in September that includes $125,000 to pay for the rise in gasoline prices.

Take-home vehicles have been discussed by officials, Bozeman said, but nothing has been done. He called the audit a “good call to action.” Of cities with comparable populations, Bremerton had significantly more take-home vehicles, according to the audit. Compared to Everett, a city with a 2007 population of 101,800 to Bremerton’s 35,810, and with a employee count of 1,113 to Bremerton’s 360, Everett employees drove home 30 vehicles compared to Bremerton’s 55 vehicles.