Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SLO Grand jury criticizes cities’ vehicle systems

Government vehicles driven and taken home by employees need better regulation, report finds
By Cynthia Lambert |

Several cities in San Luis Obispo County need to tighten policies on city vehicles that are taken home by employees and keep better track of drivers’ safety records, according to a grand jury report.

The county’s seven cities have a total of 444 vehicles, 62 of which are allowed to be taken home.

The civil grand jury found that Morro Bay does not have a policy addressing take-home vehicles for city employees, even though four of its 52 vehicles can be driven to an employee’s residence.

City Manager Andrea Lueker said the city’s current resolution, created in 1994, deals with employee reimbursement for expenses when using vehicles for city business.

The policy will be revised to include specific information, such as which employees could take a vehicle home, she said.

The report found that only Arroyo Grande, Atascadero and Pismo Beach enroll their employees who use city cars in a state Department of Motor Vehicles program, which alerts the city when a driver is ticketed or involved in an accident.

The grand jury recommended that the remaining cities enter their employees in the program.

It also recommended that Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo either develop or strengthen their policies.

Grover Beach’s policy, for example, does not make any reference to employees having a valid California driver’s license, nor does it document that employees have received and read the policy.

City Manager Bob Perrault said the City Council would likely look at bolstering the policies as the report recommended.

Paso Robles’ policy states that employees must have a valid California driver’s license but does not specify how or if the employee’s license or driving record is checked.

Paso Robles City Manager Jim App said officials are still reviewing the grand jury’s findings.

The grand jury also noted that Pismo Beach employees took home the highest percentage of vehicles, with 11 of 43 vehicles taken home, or 25 percent.

City officials there told the grand jury that Public Works Department staff members need them to respond to emergencies at the city-operated sewage treatment plant.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated on Twitter by following @SouthCountyBeat.

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