Some state employees granted the use of vehicles from the state’s Central Motor Pool abused the privilege numerous times between 2005 and 2007, according to a report from last year that has become political fodder for state Senate Republicans.
Of interest is that these apparent abuses occur despite the fact that the state uses an intricate policy system to govern the usage of such vehicles. The City of Trenton, which has somewhere around 100 taxpayer-funded vehicles, does not have a single vehicle policy in use at this time.
The state Central Motor Pool consists of approximately 7,600 total vehicles, which cost the state somewhere around $20 million annually, excluding administrative expenses. Some of the governmental entities using the largest amounts of state vehicles include Children and Families, Corrections, and Human Services, at 2,511, 1,092, and 1,016, respectively.
The report – put together by State Auditor’s office in late 2007 – demonstrated that at times approximately 10 percent of the vehicles logged gasoline purchases in amounts that exceeded the total capacity of the vehicle’s gas tanks, perhaps indicating employees were using their vehicle privileges to purchase items other than gasoline.
Also, nearly 160,000 gallons of expensive gasoline were consumed without appropriate documentation, without indication of what the gas was used for or even which vehicle it went into.
“To me, widespread abuse like this means we should eliminate the majority of state vehicles,” said state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, in a statement. “The oversight of taxpayer funded motor vehicle usage is lax or non-existent.”
Also of interest was the fact that the state auditor found that many of these vehicles were making same-day gasoline purchases, indicating the owners were driving the vehicles so frequently that they were draining entire tanks of gasoline in a single workday, requiring additional stops for gas.
If this state report is any indication of the trends in taxpayer-funded vehicle abuses, then it appears that reining in Trenton’s motor vehicle pool could be a prime place to look for cost savings in the battle to plug the looming $27 million budget shortfall.
If the government can’t take that step, the people sure can.