The Sunnyside City Council last night (Monday) approved a take-home vehicle policy for city-owned vehicles that basically prohibits the practice.
The policy was put in place after allegations of abuse had been leveled by members of the public during previous council meetings. The stand alone policy was designed to later be included as part of the comprehensive Human Resource Policy for the city.
Interim City Manager Frank Sweet requested a policy that has no exceptions and includes restrictions on cell phone use while operating a city vehicle and passengers that city employees may carry in the vehicles.
Sweet said the policy would be revisited after 90 days to determine its effect when council members expressed concern about employees that are on-call 24/7 such as the Fire Chief, Deputy Chief of Police and the K-9 unit.
Council member Don Vlieger called the move "zero-based budgeting," which involves cutting all items and seeing what changes are needed as the policy goes into effect. Vlieger estimated that vehicles being taken home by employees cost the city between $40,000 and $50,000 annually.
Council member Jim Restucci voiced concerns about the K-9 unit not being available in a timely manner. Sweet said the policy is not inflexible and may be adjusted before the end of the 90-day period if circumstance warrant.
Council member Jason Raines added that the policy enhances the professional atmosphere within the city.
The council voted unanimously to approve the policy.