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October  27

Concerns over Montclair vehicle use

271942_6269Baristanet reader Cary tips us off to an item in the Montclair Times where Erica Zarra details the ability for certain township employees in Montclair to take the vehicles that they use on the job home with them at night. More specifically, Zarra notes, is that there "are no overall policy controls to clock their use." Also being looked into is whether the purchase of sport utility vehicles is a necessity in all cases that they are bought, or whether another type of vehicle should be acquired.

This isn't to say that every employee IS taking their work vehicles home with them on a regular basis, only that there is not currently anything in place stating that this should not be done.

October 27, 2005 in Only in Montclair | Permalink



Posted by: lc | Oct 27, 2005 6:25:45 PM

I'm assuming that since is Montclair we're talking about a Democratic administration?

Posted by: The Iceman | Oct 27, 2005 7:12:30 PM

I knew this was all true when Terry Reidy was manager, I guess Joe is just getting around to this one.

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | Oct 27, 2005 7:34:40 PM

The changes have been in place for some time - we are now coming up with a more detailed written policy that defines what vehicles can be used by whom and when, under what conditions a town vehicle does not have to be marked, etc. We will also continue our policy of moving away from regular and diesel gas vehicles and more towards hybrids.

We spend a lot of money on cars and trucks and A LOT to gas them so we are tightening up the controls again.

Posted by: Ed Remsen | Oct 27, 2005 9:22:36 PM

"... I guess [Montclair Township Manager] Joe [Hartnett] is just getting around to this one."

What the heck has he been DOing all this time?!

Posted by: Confused Citizen | Oct 27, 2005 10:27:35 PM

Wow, an actual Montclair Times mention and a reporter name. Tom, you may get some flack for this from Debbie, she only likes to get scooped by Phil Read......again. How dare you mention a rag like the Montclair Times....shame on you.

Posted by: The Bird | Oct 28, 2005 12:21:54 AM

Wow, an actual reporter's name from The Montclair Times cited. Bravo Tom. If Debbie sees this you might get scolded, she only likes to get scooped by Phil Read usually,.....again.

Posted by: The Bird | Oct 28, 2005 12:24:57 AM

Does this mean the town is STILL buying SUVs for employees who could surely manage with smaller vehicles, even after the outcry the last time?
And there's no fixed policy about unlimited personal use? Do we taxpayers also pay for the gas?

Posted by: martin | Oct 28, 2005 8:17:20 AM

As has been explained elsewhere, SUV's are purchased because they can be paid for by bonds, i.e. we can borrow the money. The Town's overall debt load has not been that high, so there's a lot that can be said for this approach.

While this might make sense, what concerns me is that so many of the many new vehicles we are now buying are "high end." We don't buy stripped down SUV's (or any other type of vehicle, for that matter) we buy the ones with the fancy wheels and all the goodies. Perhaps they only cost a few dollars more, but it sends a message to the taxpayers.

In many other towns you see the beat up old pickup trucks and other vehicles. Montclair has all the new shiny ones. Even some of the garbage trucks are new. Again, a message is sent. Conserving money vs. spending money.

But I am encouraged by what the Mayor has said. Like many recent issues, he seems to have a good handle on this one.


Posted by: cary | Oct 28, 2005 8:58:25 AM

>> As has been explained elsewhere, SUV's are purchased because they can be paid for by bonds, i.e. we can borrow the money. The Town's overall debt load has not been that high, so there's a lot that can be said for this approach.

While this might make sense.... <<

How does that make sense? I understand what you're saing about "fully loaded" vehicles, but not how borrowing money to buy an inherently more expensive item (SUV vs. small car) creates an advantage.

Posted by: crank | Oct 28, 2005 9:14:20 AM

Hey Barista, do all the repeat posts come from people who hit "preview"? Seems a bit misleading. Maybe it should be renamed the "embarrass me" button.

Posted by: State Street Pete | Oct 28, 2005 9:24:59 AM

Borrowed money vs. money we have today. Towns (and counties, and states, and countries) borrow lots of money. You don't pay cash for your house, and it's not necessary, if you're a town, to pay cash for certain kinds of vehicles.

I'm not saying I agree with the policy, for specific items, just that it might make sense when the entire spending picture is looked at. We don't know that.


Posted by: cary | Oct 28, 2005 10:13:15 AM

Pete, that happens even with Post. What I've found is that, most or all of the time, a message will go through on the first attempt. If it's taking a long time, I copy and save the content of my message (just in case) and close the browser. Then, when I return to the site, the posted message finally turns up. Usually there's no need to click on Post more than once.

Posted by: Chris | Oct 28, 2005 10:16:04 AM

I know on the state level some employee's that are issued a car can take the car home but can't drive the car after hours. They have to put gas in the car at the beginning of every day and log there mileage. If something is "off" they get in trouble with their bosses and may loss the privilege of using state own cars. This may lead to them losing their jobs because for some state employee's using a state car is integral to their job function. People I know that have state cars take the responsibility very serious because they don't want to loose their jobs.

Perhaps a review of Montclair's car policy would be in order.

And yes, if it is possible all town, county, and state cars should be efficient. IE. ultra-lights, single passengers, hybrids, bio-diesel's, electric, or natural gas. We need to save municipal dollars how ever were can. The people deserve it.

Posted by: lasermike026 | Oct 28, 2005 10:25:17 AM

Mayor Remsen,

Can you explain why some of the Township vehicles are unmarked. What is the reason for this?

Is there a reason that employees who are *not* on call are allowed to take the town vehicle home?

If the employee is using the vehicle for personal reasons what happens when they get into an accident- is the town liable?

Posted by: exit_151 | Oct 28, 2005 10:52:55 AM

what ever happened to those three wheel scooters with a cab that the meter maids USED to use?

Wouldn't they be appropriate form many functions?

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | Oct 28, 2005 10:56:54 AM

Montclairians need to take it up with the town and blog it. Open government = light of day = burn'em out.

Posted by: lasermike026 | Oct 28, 2005 12:05:54 PM

Some years ago I had a neighbor in Montclair who worked in town government, and I'd see her tooling around town in her township-marked SUV, doing errands, going home for lunch and what-not. Hopefully this is no longer the case.

Posted by: Black Irish | Oct 28, 2005 12:50:13 PM

I want to say, "Come on Montclairians, make 'em cough it up." But I should deal with my own town first.

Posted by: lasermike026 | Oct 28, 2005 1:44:53 PM


What happened to Ed? He was here...and then there was no response.

Are my expectations too high?

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