How can you tell if your employees are honest?
That's a question local governments are grappling with as they look at the hundreds of vehicles their employees take home each day, and keep for the weekends.
Taxpayers also provide the gasoline.
Public employees with take-home vehicles are considered on call 24/7, like those who oversee highways, sewers and various services that are prone to emergencies. Some town supervisors also have them.
No personal use is allowed, but government really only has an employee's word that he or she isn't padding the mileage log to hide, say, taking the kids to the dentist or … as alleged in Buffalo … shopping, transporting a sailboat after hours and dropping a child off at a private school.
Then there is the Buffalo employee allegedly seen leaving a bar with his wife in a city-owned SUV.
But with gasoline well above $4 per gallon, is it fair to ask taxpayers to rely on what amounts to a honor system for take-home cars?
Some governments are starting to look at high-tech methods of tracking both take-home vehicles and the rest of the fleet. Global positioning is being used as a pilot project in Hamburg. Amherst police did it for a while.
"It was cost prohibitive," Amherst Council member Deborah Bruch Bucki said.
… Niki Cervantes