County Transportation for Commuters
by Richard Wojciechowski
Apr 28, 2008 | 885 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Editor’s Note: This letter was presented to the Ouray County Board of Commissioners on April 25, 2008.

To: BOCC 25 April 2008

As draft resolutions are still not published on the county website, citizens must guess what a resolution may contain prior to its being adopted. Accordingly, I am guessing that the proposed resolution listed on the 28 April agenda as “8. Request for adoption of Resolution 2008-025 authorizing the use of a County Car for Employee Commuters” proposes to provide county vehicles for personal use of county employees to commute to and from work.

First and foremost, county taxpayers should not be paying for personal use of county vehicles. Commuting has always been considered by all entities to be personal use, and the extent of a commute is a matter of personal preference by an employee.

If the county proposes to provide vehicles for commuters from Montrose, why not commuters from Delta? Silverton? Norwood? Grand Junction? Providing county employees with vehicles to commute from out-of-county locations discriminates against those employees who live in the county. In effect, for two employees holding identical positions, the county is saying the work of the non-resident employee is more valuable to the taxpayers of the county. The principle of equal pay for equal work is clearly violated.

The county well knows that if it does provide vehicles for county employee personal use, the county is obligated to calculate the full value of such perks, to include the lease value of the vehicle and all its operating costs including maintenance, fuel, insurance, etc., and to report that to the Internal Revenue Service as compensation to the employee, and the employee is required to pay taxes on such value. Should the county neglect to do this, or the employee fail to report such income, the IRS can hold both the employees and the county accountable.

Questions have already been raised about frequent sightings of county vehicles in Montrose, in some cases with county employees accompanied by their family members in those vehicles at various stores. At least some people conclude such sightings are evidence of abuse of taxpayer funds. At the same time as the county is apparently proposing to provide vehicles with associated operating costs to favored county employees, the county has been crying that it doesn’t have sufficient funds to maintain roads within the county and has wrung its hands about the costs of replacing county vehicles used for legitimate county purposes.

Employees of other organizations, both private and governmental, when faced with inconvenient or expensive commuting options, have formed private car pools and van pools. What precludes county employees from taking such initiatives without further burdening the county budget?

It is clear that a county that considers providing vehicles for personal use by favored county employees needs no additional revenues for any purpose whatsoever. Despite being so wealthy, it is also contrary to public policy for the county to provide vehicles for personal use at taxpayer expense – and those select employees do not even pay taxes in the county.

– Richard Wojciechowski, Log Hill

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