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Politics and Government

Onondaga County legislators request take home vehicle audit

Ellen Abbott
The Onondaga County Legislature is looking into the use of the county's take home cars to determine if they are being used appropriately.

The Onondaga County Comptroller’s Office will start an audit of so-called take home cars used by employees of various county agencies after the work day is done.

Onondaga County Legislator Chris Ryan says the idea is to get a kind of macro look at how county employees use these government-owned vehicles.

"What we’re trying to find out through an audit, is the amount of vehicles out there, how many miles, what are they being used for, how many times have they been responding out of hours with such vehicles,” Ryan explained.

He says the idea is to make sure that employees are using the cars after hours for county business.

“If everything is justified, and it’s in the name of efficiency, then I don’t think much will change," Ryan said. "But if we do find out things are not justified, then we have to take a look at it and reassess how many are out there, or who gets them.”

There are almost 140 take home vehicles across several departments, ranging from the district attorney’s office to emergency management and facilities departments. The biggest department using these cars is the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, which has had heated budget battles with legislators in the past.

But Ryan emphasizes that this audit doesn’t target the sheriff’s department. So what will happen when results come in?

"I think we will find out that some are using those vehicles out of hours for the sole purpose of doing county business," Ryan said. "And if they’re not, I don’t think it’s fair to ask taxpayers to pay for that.”

Ryan emphasized before a legislature vote on the issue that they are not targeting the sheriff’s department, which uses about half of these vehicles.

“I don’t want it to be misconstrued as such," he said.

He hopes to get all the information in time for this year's county budget discussions, which begin in September.