Commentary: Commuting at Taxpayer's Expense?


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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, July 18, 2008

Some 400 cars -- almost half the sheriff department’s fleet -- are driven home at night by deputies. Some of those deputies don’t even live in Sacramento. Under new county rules established last year, a select number of employees can take county cars 20 miles beyond Sacramento’s borders to homes as far away as Placerville, Stockton and Benicia. To accommodate county workers who live in the Feather River area, the buffer zone north of Sacramento was stretched another eight miles, to take in Yuba City and Marysville. 

So, under the rules in place, county taxpayers are subsidizing daily commutes of 40, 50 and 60 miles or more. With gas approaching 5 dollars a gallon does that make cost-effective sense?

An audit in 2006 found no one was monitoring whether the sheriff department’s vehicle take home policy was being followed. Back then, Sheriff Lou Blanas promised to review it. More than two years later, that review has not been completed.  Sheriff John McGinness promises it will be and soon. Good.  

But the sheriff isn’t alone. Public agencies throughout our region have similar car take home policies. With gas prices soaring all need to be re-examined.