Thursday, May 16, 2002

Curbing take-home cars saves the city $204,000

By Gregory Korte,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The crackdown on employees who take city-owned cars home with them will save Cincinnati taxpayers $204,000, according to a report Wednesday by City Manager Valerie Lemmie.

        An investigation by Councilman Pat DeWine found in March that hundreds of city employees were driving to work in city cars, often from suburban homes. All told, they racked up more than 1 million miles in commuting distance.

        The city administration reacted immediately, ordering non-emergency employees to justify their use of take-home cars or turn in their keys.

        Ms. Lemmie reported Wednesday that 51 of the 67 non-emergency vehicles had been turned in, as had five of the 162 emergency vehicles.

        Some departments were affected more than others. Eleven building inspectors lost their take-home car privileges, as did 12 managers in the Metropolitan Sewer District and 24 in the Public Services Department.

        Revoking take-home privileges will add an average of two years to the life of each car, saving $154,000, Ms. Lemmie said. Add in fuel and maintenance savings of $50,000, and the total savings is $204,000.

        Mr. DeWine applauded the report, calling the use of take-home cars as a fringe benefit “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

        The Republican councilman is a frequent critic of “sloppy management practices” and has pushed reforms on overtime for city supervisors (saving $2 million a year) and overuse of cell phones (saving $109,000 a year).

        He's now urging a $293,000 cut in city travel expenses.


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