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Fulton County delays company car debate
by Noreen Cochran
September 25, 2013 01:28 PM | 18012 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
download Fulton County take-home vehicle report
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners last week put off for the third time an impending discussion of take-home vehicles based on a report it approved at its May 1 meeting.

The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.

Commissioner Robb Pitts said at the Sept. 4 meeting, when the discussion was delayed for the second time, he and Vice Chair Emma Darnell were waiting for answers to five questions.

The questions covered included financial data, unrestricted use and actions required of District Attorney Paul Howard and Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand, both of whom are on the take-home vehicle list.

“For the year 2012, the number of times general services and public works employees along with the DA and tax commissioner were called back to work,” Pitts said.

Of the 140-line list, all but 28 are for public safety employees like police officers, sheriff’s deputies and marshals.

According to the report, Howard is classified as a public safety officer who is “necessary for callback on an emergency basis for incident response or investigations.”

Ferdinand is classified as an employee “approved by department head or county manager to take a vehicle home and live in Fulton County.”

Interim County Manager David Wade said he thought the information had been distributed and said he would resend it Sept. 4.

The answers are relevant to other discussions on travel and reimbursement, Pitts said, moving the item to Sept. 18.

Pitts also said in a related discussion Sept. 4 on travel policy the commissioners needed to stop abuses related to mileage reimbursement and car use before examining take-home vehicle recipients.

“The only reason this came to light is because when Ferdinand was up here, he was accused of having a vehicle, buying a vehicle and there was a media storm over that,” Pitts said. “If you total up the amount some of us are spending on an annual basis for reimbursements, it will cost more than what Ferdinand spends on a brand-new car. So let’s make sure that our houses are clean before we start throwing stones.”

But Sept. 18, the unfinished business was bundled with a package of other travel and reimbursement items.

“We have three different items on our agenda today that are connected,” Commissioner Liz Hausmann said. “We have the mileage, we have the previous travel policy and we also have the take-home vehicle policy. I think they need to be taken together in context so we can determine the most fiscally responsible way to conduct business.”

Darnell counseled patience and more scrutiny of the practical application of the policies.

“It is appearing to be a pattern we’re getting into where we move forward on matters that are major policy issues that we have not really resolved,” she said.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to hold all the related items, with Pitts opposed.

The board did enact:

 An agreement with Majestic Realty for “Project Jasper,” a $120 million commercial venture slated to bring 700 jobs and 50 percent of the developer’s profits to 300 unused acres at Fulton County’s Charlie Brown Airport

 Accepting $3 million from the Atlanta Regional Commission for senior services

 Extending a $4.5 million contract with Johnson Controls to operate the county jail in 2014

 A revenue-generating contract with South Atlanta Community Tennis Association to operate the South Fulton Tennis Center, expected to bring in about $79,000

 $2 million for Delta Municipal Supply Co. to provide water meters.

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