KINGSTON, NY - Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach says the county is spending more than it should to reimburse employees for the use of their personal vehicles on the job, according to the Daily Freeman.

In a report, Auerbach said the county averaged $347,000 in annual mileage expense reimbursements over the past three years. The report was issued as part of a management study covering the first six months of 2007, 2008, and 2009, revealing a large portion of the expense is directed at Social Services and Public Health, reported the Freeman.

The report found 55-cents-per-mile reimbursements for the first six months of 2009 amounted to $92,252.96 for 167,732.65 miles in the county Department of Social Services while $33,108.47 was reimbursed for 60,197.22 miles covered by county Department of Health personnel.

County Executive Michael Hein said the report points to the need for a policy recognizing the needs of field case workers who must make site visits.

"The question really is whether this is the most cost-effective way or not," Hein said, according to the Freeman, adding that the fleet manager is working through a cost-benefit analysis on each mile of employee travel.

Total miles driven by employees in all 46 county departments during the first six months of 2009 were reported at 642,152.78 and amounted to $353,184.02 in reimbursements, reported the Freeman.

While reimbursements reflected use of personal vehicles in 53.82 percent of the miles driven for the Department of Social Services and 19.31 percent for the Department of Health, use of personal vehicles did not exceed 5 percent of miles driven in any other department. The third-highest rate was attributed to the Department of Mental Health at 4.24 percent of miles driven, with $7,261.30 paid out for 13,202.36 miles, the Freeman reported.

County Legislature Chairman Fred Wadnola said the Legislature's Public Safety Committee is reviewing the use of county vehicles and that recommendations will come out of findings of county department supervisors.