End council use of vehicles

Published 9:10 am Friday, October 1, 2010

The Franklin City Council, which this week clamped down on its members’ use of city-owned vehicles, should go a step further.

Council members, who are part-time policymakers with no administrative responsibilities in city government, should not be driving city vehicles at all.

If a council member has to attend an out-of-town meeting and doesn’t feel that the small salary he draws for service on the council is enough to cover his expense, then he should take his own car and submit a mileage-based reimbursement request.

Prior to Monday night’s council meeting, we weren’t aware that council members had vehicle privileges. We were surprised to learn about it.

We don’t doubt Councilman Greg McLemore’s assertion that a new, more restrictive policy on vehicle usage — approved by a 5-2 vote — was directed at him. But the target of the new policy is irrelevant to our strong belief that council members have no business driving city-owned vehicles.

Government vehicle fleets should be kept to an absolute minimum, reserved for employees who deliver services directly to taxpayers and who are on call after hours and on weekends. Police officers, firefighters, rescue personnel, dog catchers and street crews are a few examples.

Managers who spend the majority of their time at City Hall should not get taxpayer-funded vehicles. And elected council members certainly should not.