16Kevin Gaughan, Democratic and Working Families candidate for Erie County Comptroller, today proposed ending all take-home vehicles for all county officials and employees in non-essential services departments.

Gaughan conducted a study of the number, nature and use of all gas vehicles by Erie County (see memorandum below), examining a public record list of all vehicles owned by the Erie County, and all 24-hour vehicles assigned to the Executive branch. Among his findings are: Erie County has an excessive number of vehicles, given its depleted population and tax base; and the county is ill-equipped to be dispensing taxpayer-paid for gas to such a large vehicle fleet.

“The only thing more difficult to ascertain than the number of governments in New York State,” Gaughan asserted, “is the number of gas-using vehicles owned by Erie County. And the day in which non-essential services officials and employees drive home a taxpayer-owned vehicle with taxpayer-funded gas must end.”

M E M O R A N D U M

To: Erie County Taxpayers
Date: October 7, 2013
Re: Erie County Fleet of Vehicles:
Proposal to End all 24-Hour Vehicles Except for Law Enforcement,
Emergency Services, and Health Personnel

I have conducted an informal review of the number, nature, and use of automobiles, trucks, SUV’s, motorcycles, and related gas vehicles owned by Erie County and assigned to employees, including elected and appointed officials.

In this connection, I have reviewed the following material and documents, and examined several previous Erie County Comptroller’s Office reviews and audits of the county vehicle fleet:
List of all moving vehicles owned by Erie County
List of Erie County Executive Branch 24-Hour Vehicles
County of Erie Annual Budget, 2010 through 2013
Various published reports and commentary concerning use, maintenance, and costs, including fuel costs, of all vehicles owned by Erie County

Findings

1. Erie County owns, maintains and operates more than 1,100 vehicles, an excessive number
given the county’s 35-year history of population loss and reduced taxpayer base.

2. Several county departments that appear to have little or no use for taxpayer-funded vehicles,
have several assigned to them, including:

Department Vehicles

  • Erie Community College 102 automobiles and trucks
  • Erie County Board of Elections 3 automobiles
  • Erie County Clerk 4 automobiles
  • Buildings and Grounds (a unit within 45 automobiles and trucks
  • the Department of Public Works,
  • which has an additional 275 autos and trucks)
  • Erie County Sheriff 210 vehicles, including some 40 large SUV’s

Note: Each of these vehicle is in addition to the 20 “pool” vehicles assigned to the Department of Fleet Services and available to officials for use in county business, and the 47 vehicles assigned to the Department of Emergency Services.

3. The Executive branch of Erie County government has more than 30 take-home vehicles,
including 19 vehicles for employees working in non-essential services departments.

4. Erie County taxpayers pay more than $1,000,000 per year for gasoline for county-owned
vehicles.

5. Erie County, like all large governments, is ill-equipped to properly monitor a) the use of
take-home vehicles, and b) gasoline use, to protect against inappropriate practices.

Proposals

  • To align Erie County’s vehicle fleet with our reduced population and taxpayer base, Erie County should retain an outside firm to independently determine the county’s vehicle needs, and recommend appropriate streamlining of the fleet.
  • Eliminate all 24-hour take home vehicles except for emergency services, health, and essential services personnel.
  • Eliminate all vehicles now utilized by county employees delivering non-essential services, including Board of Elections and County Clerk, and transfer to a gasoline costs reimbursement system for employees’ private vehicle use for public matters.
  • End the practice of permitting county-owned non-essential vehicles to obtain gasoline at county gas dispensaries, and be replaced with a credit card, reimbursement system.