Monday, April 20, 2015

Gloucester, Virginia Local Government Allows Personal Use of Government Vehicles In Violation of State Codes?

§ 2.2-1179. Use of vehicles for commuting.
No passenger-type vehicle purchased or leased with public funds shall be used to commute between an employee's home and official work station without the prior written approval of the agency head and, in the case of vehicles assigned to the centralized fleet, the DirectorThe Director shall establish guidance documents governing such use of vehicles and shall ensure that costs associated with such use shall be recovered from employees. Employees who do not report to an official work station shall not be required to pay for travel between their homes and field sites. Guidance documents established by the Director and recovery of costs shall not apply to use of vehicles by law-enforcement officers. By executive order of the Governor, such guidance documents may extend to all motor vehicles of any type owned by the Commonwealth, or such of them as the Governor may designate.
(1989, c. 479, § 33.1-406; 2001, cc. 815842, § 2.1-548.07; 2013, c. 485.)

§ 2.2-1178. Use of passenger-type vehicles on an assigned basis.
A. Passenger-type vehicles assigned to the centralized fleet may be assigned to persons performing state duties only if deemed necessary by the head of the agency or institution requesting such vehicle and approved in writing by the Director. Request for such vehicle shall be made in writing on forms prepared by the Department of General Services by the head of the agency or institution explaining in detail the purpose of or reason for such assignment.
B. Assignments shall be approved by the Director only on the basis of one of the following criteria:
1. The vehicle shall be driven not less than the annual usage standard. The Director shall promulgate a minimum mileage standard taking into account best value, industry standard practices, and the use of alternative transportation methods;
2. The vehicle shall be used by an employee whose duties are routinely related to public safety or response to life-threatening situations:
a. A law-enforcement officer as defined in § 9.1-101, with general or limited police powers;
b. An employee whose job duties require the constant use or continuous availability of specialized equipment directly related to their routine functions; or
c. An employee on 24-hour call who must respond to emergencies on a regular or continuing basis, and emergency response is normally to a location other than the employee's official work station; or
3. The vehicle shall be used for essential travel related to the transportation of clients or wards of the Commonwealth on a routine basis, or for essential administrative functions of the agency for which it is demonstrated that use of a temporary assignment or personal mileage reimbursement is neither feasible nor economical.
C. No assignment shall be for a period exceeding two years except upon review by the Director as to the continued need for the assignment.
D. The use of such vehicle shall be limited to official state business.
(1989, c. 479, § 33.1-405; 2001, cc. 815842, § 2.1-548.06; 2011, c. 611.)

Verses Gloucester County Human Resources Information:

Use of County Vehicles and Equipment 620.1 Introduction The operation of vehicles is necessary in conducting the day-to-day business of the County. This use of vehicles represents one of the greatest risks facing the County. Recognizing this, it is imperative that the County take reasonable steps to control the use of County and privately owned vehicles while performing County business. This policy sets forth the guidelines and policies governing the operation of vehicles used in the performance of official County business. Department and agency heads are responsible for implementation and enforcement of this policy for all vehicles and drivers assigned to their department.

 620.2 Applicability and Definition This policy applies to all County vehicles as defined herein and to all employees who routinely or occasionally drive a County vehicle. The term County vehicle as used in this policy is defined as (1) any County owned, leased or rented vehicle, including special-use vehicles such as construction and excavation equipment designed to operate primarily offroad but driven on public roads to a job site, and (2) privately owned vehicles when used in the performance of official County duties. (Sheriff’s Department and Department of Social Services vehicles and employees are covered by their respective operating policies.)

 620.3 Authorized Use The following examples are an attempt to cover most circumstances or conditions of authorized use and should not be considered all inclusive:

 A. Official Use - County vehicles are authorized “For Official Use Only.” Such vehicles are to be utilized to perform the functions and to conduct the operations and programs of the Department or Agency which is using the vehicle. County vehicles may be utilized both within and outside of the County for official use. 

B. Transport of Unofficial Parties – When such official use includes the transport of unofficial parties, that is parties not directly related to County business, the County Administrator must first approve such transport. 

C. Use of Vehicles by other Public Entities - Employees of other public entities may operate County vehicles under the specific approval of the department head as long as such operation is essential in conducting County business. Department heads granting permission for non-County employees to operate County vehicles are responsible for ensuring that the driver is properly licensed, trained and qualified to operate the vehicle. 

D. Personal Use - County vehicles may not be utilized for personal purposes. Exceptions include those employees who, while conducting County business, are away from their normal place of work at mealtime and those employees with an assigned  vehicle where such vehicle is the only practical mode of transportation available at mealtime. Employees whose duties require them to be away from a County office building during the day may briefly stop at a commercial establishment located along their work required travel route to use a restroom or purchase a refreshment. Department and Agency Heads are charged with reviewing with staff appropriate and de minimis usage identified herein. 

E. Take Home –In order to meet the business needs of the County, the County Administrator may authorize an employee to take a County vehicle home. County vehicles taken home overnight shall be locked and secured in the responsible employee's driveway or other designated parking space which is in close proximity to the employee’s residence. It is the intent of the County to limit the use of take home vehicles to the greatest extent practicable and to restrict this practice to those living within Gloucester County unless specifically stated otherwise. An employee in possession of a take home vehicle may stop briefly at a grocery store, pharmacy, etc. for reasons of personal convenience along the most direct route to or from their residence.  Such stops must be completed within one half hour of the beginning or end of the employee’s shift. The following examples are an attempt to illustrate the circumstances under which the County Administrator, or his/her designee, may authorize an employee to take a County vehicle home and should not be considered all inclusive: 

1. Employees who are subject to 24-hour call out, and due to the nature of their work, report directly to a jobsite away from a County facility in a County vehicle required by the nature of their response.

 2. Duty vehicles designed or equipped for high priority response where response time will be enhanced by allowing the vehicle to remain in custody of individual employee. Employees assigned to duty vehicles which are taken home must be available to respond upon request on a 24-hour basis any time the employee has custody of the vehicle. 

3. To prepare for a post-disaster response in order to plan an effective and efficient recovery. 

4. When travel from the employee's home, either within or outside of Gloucester County, to a destination for official County business is the most direct and/or closest route, (for example, early morning travel to a conference).

 620.4 Control and Use of Vehicles The County Administrator, department and agency heads shall carefully monitor and take necessary action to preclude operations that are contrary to the policies and procedures herein. Gloucester County Administrative Policy Gloucester, Virginia Section:

 620 Page: Page 3 of 10 Supersedes: N/A Effective Date: November 1, 2014 Title: 

Use of County Vehicles and Equipment Authorized By: County Administrator The following examples are an attempt to cover most circumstances or conditions of use and should not be considered all inclusive: A. Vehicle Identification - All service vehicles utilized by County departments will be identified with the official logo, departmental designation, and color scheme as designated by the County Administrator. 

B. Proper Licensing - Employees and authorized drivers must have a valid vehicle operator’s or commercial driver’s license in their possession at all times while operating a County vehicle. 

C. Qualified Operator – A qualified operator (driver) must be positioned at the vehicle's controls any time it is running unless otherwise approved by the manufacturer. No vehicle shall be left unattended without first stopping the motor, locking the ignition, removing the key and locking the doors or otherwise securing the vehicle to prevent theft, vandalism, and unintentional movement. 

D. Seatbelts - All drivers of County vehicles and all passengers therein shall properly use seat belts (if the vehicle is equipped with seat belts). Employees are prohibited from removing, deactivating, modifying or otherwise defeating any occupant restraint system installed by the manufacturer unless approved or instructed by the manufacturer. 

E. Motor Vehicle Laws - Employees shall obey all City/County, State and Federal laws while operating County vehicles and any time personal vehicles are used on official County business. Drivers should practice “defensive driving” and anticipate and observe the actions of other drivers and control their own vehicle in such a manner so as to avoid an accident involvement. 

F. Prohibition of Alcohol and Illegal Substances - It is prohibited for County vehicles to be utilized if the driver is impaired by, or under the influence of alcohol, intoxicants, drugs, or illegal substances. The possession or consumption of alcohol, intoxicants, or illegal drugs while operating a County vehicle is also prohibited. 

G. Smoking - Smoking and/or the use of tobacco products is not permitted in County vehicles. 

H. Mobile Communication Devices – Drivers of County vehicles should refrain from operating cellular telephones or other electronic devices that may cause driver distraction while operating a County vehicle. Drivers shall make every attempt to properly park their vehicle prior to using such devices. Drivers must adhere to Virginia laws and jurisdictional laws while traveling out of the State. 

I. Rendering Assistance - County vehicles may not be used to pull or push any other vehicle unless the vehicle is equipped to do so and the driver has been properly Gloucester County Administrative Policy Gloucester, Virginia Section: 620 Page: Page 4 of 10 Supersedes: N/A Effective Date: November 1, 2014 Title: Use of County Vehicles and Equipment Authorized By: County Administrator trained. It is permissible to render assistance in case of emergencies and to transport unofficial parties in such cases. 

J. Passengers – No person shall be allowed to ride on running boards, fenders, hoods, tailgates, beds, or other locations on a vehicle not designed or approved by the vehicle manufacturer for passenger seating. 

K. Cargo - When cargo, materials or tools are being transported, the driver is responsible for assuring that all items are properly secured to prevent them from shifting or falling from the vehicle or trailer. 

L. Backing up large vehicles – Drivers of large vehicles and/or construction equipment will avoid whenever possible, operating the vehicle in reverse to avoid the necessity of backing. Before entering the vehicle, the driver shall check the rear clearance of the vehicle. 

1. The driver shall not back the vehicle unless such movement can be made with reasonable safety and without interfering with other traffic. 

2. A spotter should be used whenever possible. Before and during backing movements, the driver and spotter will check blind zones for objects not visible in rear-view mirrors, watch both sides for adequate clearance, and limit speed to allow a full stop on short notice. 

M. Towing - A driver whose vehicle is towing a trailer, dolly, or other equipment shall ensure that the trailer hitch is securely latched, adequate for the load being towed, properly installed on the towing vehicle, and that safety chains are properly attached. 

1. The driver shall also ensure that the tow vehicle, in general, is rated to tow the type and weight of trailer being towed. 

2. The driver shall ensure that the trailer or other towed equipment is supplied with proper lighting including brake lights, turn signals, and running lights. 3. Any vehicle having a load which extends more than four (4) feet beyond the rear shall have the end of the load marked with a red flag, not less than twelve (12) inches in square. 

N. Intentional Misuse - Intentional misuse, abuse, moving violations, reckless operation, or negligent actions while operating a County vehicle may result in the suspension of the employee's driving privileges and is grounds for further disciplinary action. 

O. Citizen Complaints – Complaints regarding the use or operation of County vehicles are received in the County Administrator’s office. The County Administrator, or appropriate department or agency head, shall investigate the complaint and, if necessary, take appropriate corrective action. 

Either way, you can read the rest at the above link.  Anyone see major violations between county policy and state Codes?  Looks to us as though the county is in direct violation of Commonwealth Codes as is par for the course.  How many other violations does that county allow on its books?  How much of your tax money do county officials think they are allowed to waste?  When they are wasting your money like this, of course they need more tax revenue.  Of course they are going to raise your taxes.  So what if they are only wasting your money as we can clearly see they have no issues in doing so.  We think they should raise your taxes to 95 cents per hundred dollars and not leave it at just 72 cents.  That way they can buy more cars and waste more gas.  You should buy all of them lunch everyday.

  You should also buy them breakfast and dinner as well.  They all want raises so you should give them at least a 10% raise each and every year.  Why should they have to suffer even though you may be suffering?  You should pay all of their health care costs as well as that of their families costs too.  You should provide all of the county employees with no cost and no percentage loans so they can all buy and live in nice houses.  Maybe even your old house that you can no longer afford.

  You should also do the same so that they can all buy and drive nice cars or trucks.  Each employee should be able to afford an expensive Disney vacation at least once a year as well.  Come on and step up for these folks.  Who cares if they are in total violation of what Virginia allows and does not allow.  At least you will be doing your part in ensuring a truly rotten future for all of us.

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