Trenton City Council needs to move now to end the practice of allowing municipal employees, city contractors, and police to use city vehicles for all types of non-city business.
Councilman Jim Coston actually proposed such a measure sometime last year, but Special Counsel Joe Alacqua apparently received orders from higher-ups Palmer administration officials to nix the proposal, however possible.
Mr. Alacqua did this by providing questionable legal advice, in telling City Council the absurd statement that such matters as controlling municipal vehicles – and the gasoline going into them – was a purely administrative function, to be regulated by Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and his administration officials.
Now that Hamilton Township has joined the ranks of so many other New Jersey towns and passed an ordinance controlling the use of municipal vehicles, such a position as that taken by Mr. Alacqua is obviously false.
City Council could save the City of Trenton millions of dollars in gasoline and wear and tear on city vehicles by mandating that those vehicles be used solely for city business within city limits at all times, period.
Police living outside of the city can commute back and forth in their own cars and pick up their police vehicles at designated places throughout the city, like near the department’s several precincts. Arguments from the administration that doing so would cost more because of the security necessary for such lots is absurd, when the majority of municipal vehicles already sit in lots when not in use.
Vehicles provided to city employees – who are still legally required to live in Trenton – should be even more tightly controlled, by only being cleared for use during official city business, and only within city limits except under special circumstances.
With $4 a gallon gas soon to be a reality and the city descending deeper and deeper into a budget crisis, now is the time to regulate this perpetual drain on city resources, and that means Mayor Palmer’s car use too.
Any potential ordinance should also go as far as ending the practice of having detectives earning $70,000 a year carting the mayor around town in a city car as if he were a czar, sultan, or even a governor.
The mayor gets to use that vehicle when many city police and other employees are forced to use a fleet of aging, worn out vehicles that only gets worse with each passing day.
Let’s get serious Trentonians.