LOUISVILLE, KYDepartment of Labor hearing officers have ruled against allowing the city to continue to charge fees for take-home vehicles, according to WHAS11. Instead, the fees would need to be part of contract negotiations.

The fees were reportedly being charged in efforts to keep $500,000 in the budget this fiscal year, according to WHAS11.

The department is requiring the city to immediately stop the take-home car fee and return vehicles to any employees who chose not to pay the fee and had to turn in their vehicles.

For next fiscal year, the city is losing $1.4 million they were counting on from the take-home cars.

 "I am disappointed by the finding, which essentially says take-home cars are a right, not a privilege, for police officers regardless of the cost to taxpayers and the economic challenges the city faces," said Mayor Jerry Ambramson, who believes the fees are a "small price to pay for 24/7 use of a vehicle, free gasoline, free maintenance, and free insurance that officers enjoy for personal use and secondary jobs," in a statement.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary will need to determine whether to accept or reject this recommendation. If accepted, "it will add to our budget-balancing challenge," said Ambramson.

Complete Department of Labor ruling