TAMPA, FL– With gas prices reaching record highs, the Tampa Police Department said it will have to spend $800,000 more than originally budgeted this year to cover rising fuel costs, according to www.tampabay.com.

At the same time, the department offers one of the area’s most generous take-home vehicle policies, with taxpayers covering the gas costs of many city-issued cars used for commutes far outside city limits. And City leaders said they have no plans to change that.

The department has 985 take-home vehicles assigned to officers and a few staff members. Only 261 of those belong to employees living in the City of Tampa. Of the rest, more than 230 go home with officers who live in Pasco County, while 14 are assigned to employees who live in Polk County.

City Council member Charlie Miranda said it might be wise to reconsider the policy next year. Other council members, though, say the decision belongs to the mayor.

Maintenance costs have gone down since bringing back the take-home cars, and the vehicles last for seven years instead of three. That’s because the cars aren’t used around the clock. Overall, the department spent about $3-million on fuel in both 2006 and 2007. Because of higher gas prices, the department expects to spend $4-million in both 2008 and 2009.