Thursday, February 17, 2011

City Council Cars Considered Carefully

(Any day I get to pull off a five-word alliterative headline I feel good about myself. Onward!)

Apparently, as Election 2011 starts its slow simmer, the issue of City-provided cars for Councilmembers is becoming problematic. At present (as I'd previously reported) the 7 councilmembers get free City-owned vehicles, with free City-provided gasoline, insurance, and maintenance for their use. There are no penalties against them if they use said cars for personal reasons, though they're supposed to report personal trip expenses covered by the city as income to the IRS. (I'm sure that works about as well as California's "use tax" reporting- that is, not at all.)

I understand that, from time to time, a council member will have to attend a regional governing meeting or forum on the City dime. But why, exactly, are we paying to subsidize their driving everywhere? Note that, even if the councilmembers pay taxes on their personal driving, it's still you and I paying for it!

Apparently some councilmen agree. As reported today in the PE, even freshman Ward 4 councilman Paul Davis, who drives a City-owned car, is willing to give it up. Two weeks ago he defended his use of his City vehicle.

Of course, the big hold out on the policy is councilman Steve Adams, who costs taxpayers more than double the next-nearest user of the car perk. Apparently, having a car makes him a "better representative."

I'm fine with the Council either being provided vehicles for City-related business or reimbursed for their official travel- because, let's face it, our transit system is just not well-developed enough to allow our officials to flit about the southland with ease. Paying for whatever travel they like, whenever they like? Not happy. On your off hours, councilman, you get free transit like every other City employee- and that ought to be it.

As fellow blogger Chewie puts it, let's take the cars off welfare- staring with the City Council.

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