BUFFALO, NY – In tough economic times, should elected officials have 24 hour access to a city-owned car? It’s a debate that includes Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the Buffalo School Superintendent, the candidates for District Attorney, and even several federal workers below the cabinet level, according to the www.wben.com . As gas prices rise, and municipal budgets tighten, it is being questioned in several places nationwide.
WBEN examined the issue and found:
· Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams defending his car and driver as an essential required for modern business.
· 2 of the 3 candidates running for Erie County District Attorney said they would not make use of a county vehicle.
· The City of Buffalo continues its legal wrangling to remove cars from some city employees, and Mayor Brown continues to use his.
In Erie County, the number of take-home vehicles used by county staff has been trimmed. Also recently, 20 city police officers, including some in the Evidence Unit and Professional Standards, were ordered to turn in their cars — but State Supreme Court Judge Timothy Drury has issued a stay of that order until a union grievance is heard at the end of the month.
The issue has also sparked debate in Lancaster and Lackawanna where the top elected officials there recently bought a vehicle for their constant use with taxpayer approved funds.