Adams County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Oct. 3 to create a new policy concerning the use of county vehicles by elected officials and any vehicle-related compensation.
“This has been a part of our reform effort to go back and look at our policies and continue to review, revise and revisit those policies and procedures when appropriate,” Adams County administrator Jim Robinson said.
The elected officials subject to this policy are the county assessor, clerk and recorder, commissioners and treasurer. The county sheriff, district attorney and coroner are currently exempted from the policy because of their status as emergency first responders.
Elected officials subject to this policy may choose one of three compensation options: turn in a currently assigned vehicle and receive a monthly vehicle allowance of $600; continue to drive currently assigned vehicle with minimal personal use until the vehicle is due for replacement; or turn in their assigned vehicle and receive mileage reimbursement at the current Internal Revenue Service rate for the use their personal vehicle.
The board approved a resolution on May 23 directing Robinson and the county finance department to collaborate with elected officials to create a policy covering their use of county vehicles, as well as reimbursement for their use of personal vehicles for county business.
Under the new policy, elected officials or other county employees will not be allowed to purchase a vehicle from the county and non-business use, including commute miles, shall be considered as normal income. The new policy will become effective on Jan. 1, 2013.
“It’s one of the few occasions where I’ve seen everybody kind of working together toward a common goal, and I think this is a model for the future,” said Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen. “There are going to be other issues that are going to come forward where we’re going to want to have one group decision, and I think that was a great way to do it.”
Fellow commissioner Alice Nichol agreed and said the new policy is keeping with her promise to revisit the issue.
“I feel that this is a very fair policy with all of the communication that we’ve had working with our elected officials for their input,” Nichol said. “It’s all part of improving our county government and being transparent, and here’s another way I’m being transparent.”
Board Chairman W.R. “Skip” Fischer said the decision to change the county’s policy has not always been an easy decision.
“Even though the current system that we had did need some tweaking, other counties have the same policy, if not a more liberal policy, and I thought that meant that we weren’t out of line,” Fischer said. “The concern I always have when we adopt or change a policy is that the pendulum swings too far the other way, but in this case, even though we don’t have a perfect policy, I believe this new policy more aligns with our vision statement.”