New county vehicle policy now in effect

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Written by Andrew Clay, intern with The Messenger

Several Pike County departments must now make new arrangements when it comes to vehicle use and scheduling due to a recent Pike County Commission vote.

As of Wednesday, Pike County vehicles are now subject to an amended version of policy 18.4. That’s a policy that restricts the use of county resources by employees.

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“It’s a policy that needed to be in place,” Commissioner Jimmy Barron said. “I’ve received several calls about abuses of county vehicles and I think the commission needed to address the usage of our vehicles. I believe it will be a cost saving measure for the county, based on the number of vehicles and miles traveled.”

Barron also said that the point of this policy is to help the county understand who is taking its vehicles where and what they are being used for.

The policy was approved at the last commission meeting on April 23, by a vote of 3-2. Commissioner Joey Jackson abstained while commissioners Charlie Harris, Jimmy Barron and Robin Sullivan were in favor with Homer Wright and Ray Goodson against.

In total, 11 county vehicles are affected by the policy. Of those 11, three will be allowed to remain in use by the employees when off duty because of the employees’ positions.

Six of those vehicles are used by the Pike County Road Department and must now be returned to the county when employees are off duty. According to information provided by Barron, the road department vehicles were traveling more than 100 miles and using more than five gallons of gasoline, when being used for travel from home to work. That doesn’t include travel from a work site, home. Employees will now also be required to report to the department facility to acquire pre-prepped vehicles.

Section E of the amended policy, provides for the Pike County Road department employees who might need to use vehicles after the conclusion of normal work hours.

The Pike County Road Department was unavailable Wednesday for comment on the newly amended policy.

The Pike County Revenue Department has also lost the after hours use of two county vehicles now that the policy is in effect. The revenue department declined to comment for this story.

“If an employee violates the policy, steps will be taken toward disciplinary action,” Barron said.

In Section D of the policy, a caveat to provide for Pike County emergency services exists that will allow law enforcement, emergency management, elected officials and department heads to take vehicles home after hours.

“It does not affect the Sheriff’s department,” Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said.

Section D also provides for employees who may be required to perform duties outside of normal working hours to take home and use county vehicles for county business with prior approval by the Pike County Commission.

“The basic result is that there will be several county employees who won’t be taking their vehicles home any longer,” Pike County Administrator Harry Sanders said.