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Published: Friday, 10/24/2003

County vehicle policy due today

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Lucas County commissioners are expected to be presented today with a new policy regarding use of county-owned vehicles.

It clearly prohibits personal use of the vehicles, which became a priority for the commissioners after Treasurer Ray Kest was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in a county car. The policy likely will lead to a reduction in the number of county vehicles, said county Administrator Edward Ciecka.

A review committee has been studying the issue since shortly after Mr. Kest's arrest.

Mr. Ciecka, who was working on the document last night, said county employees or officials would not be permitted to use any of the 433 county vehicles to run personal errands. However, it would be permissible to use a vehicle, for example, to get lunch, as long as the employee was already out in the field during the course of the workday.

“A county employee is assigned a vehicle as part of his job, and needs that car to perform their position. During the course of the day, that person is entitled to take a break,” Mr. Ciecka said.

He cited the example of an employee, such as a building inspector, who needs to have a commuter car to go from home to work sites without stopping downtown to pick up a vehicle. There are 105 commuter cars in the fleet.

Mr. Ciecka declined to release a copy of the policy last night before the commissioners had seen it.

The proposed policy includes a provision to review individual use of county-owned vehicles on a yearly basis.

“I would anticipate that the fleet would shrink,” Mr. Ciecka said. “In fact, 24 vehicles are being auctioned off next month, and seven of those will not be replaced.”

Harry Barlos, president of the commissioners, said he had not seen the policy, but hoped it would identify all the vehicles, who is using the vehicles and for what purposes, and mandate that accurate logs be kept.

Mr. Barlos was one of several elected officials who stopped using a county vehicle in the wake of media scrutiny. He admitted that he was using his county-owned minivan as a personal vehicle, which violates state law. He has since obtained his own car and plans to return the minivan to the county.

Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who does not have a county vehicle, also said the county fleet would be reduced.

“I anticipate that if persons have limited mileage needs, that they wouldn't need a vehicle as greatly as someone [driving more miles for work matters],” she said. “Basically, it will be clear that personal use will be prohibited.”



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