Friday, February 28, 2014

State Audits Clarence Vehicle and Fuel Use (Hint: It's Wasteful)

The self-anointed "taxpayers" were quite vocal, sitting up in the last row of the High School lecture hall, scoffing at suggestions that brat kids shouldn't be riding to school on 14 year-old, dilapidated, rusting buses. They harangued the school board over pennies - hey, why don't we contract out the bus services? Hey, why do these kids need buses, anyhow? Hey, do we really NEED schools?

But while kids ride to school on rolling embarrassments, 11 town employees - including the supervisor - get freebie take-home vehicles. The State Comptroller took a look at how the town manages its fleet and fuel, and the results are shocking.  I hope you don't buy the trope that these guys are looking out for the taxpayers, because they're looking out for five separate number ones, and the people who owe them their jobs.

Some fun facts:

First, if you take a look at the audit, it's pretty damning. One of the fuel systems has no controls, and there are several vehicles that the town owns, fuels, and insures that aren't used on a regular basis, so the question is - does anyone need them?

Hartzell responded to the audit with a classic punt - we're doing an action plan you guys! This guy sailed into office promising to be just dreamy when it came to taxes and spending, and here he is getting smacked over lax controls and overspending by a Democratic Comptroller. That's on top of the barracks. And the sewers.

It's not just that they get these cars, by the way. You have to see the part of the audit where we're reminded that the town Board adopted a resolution in 1998 requiring replacement of cars every three years, and 4WD vehicles every four years. Must be nice. Kindergartners get new buses every what - 15 years?

Of course, school bus purchases are subject to a referendum. The people who think kids should walk barefoot to school in the snow to save a penny on taxes - would they vote to give town employees a shiny new car every 3 years? (Probably. They're Republicans.)

The 11 town employees who get to take a car home - they're welfare queens of the highest order.  They don't get paid enough to drive their own cars and put in for mileage reimbursement? They need to have their vehicle, its fuel, and the insurance subsidized by taxpayers? At a time where the tea party demagogues the town about school costs and teacher salaries, they don't make a peep about our town welfare cars. Where's the Clarence Taxpayers, who declare that they have 14 year-old cars in the back row of the school board meeting, when it comes to town employees driving brand-new town vehicles to go to the grocery store?

I'd frankly love to know if Hartzell is declaring his free Ford Escape with its free gas and free insurance on his tax filings. It's all income. A gravy train disguised as a Ford. And if Hartzell racked up 550 miles to commute to work, where did the other 2800 miles come from, exactly? The audit reveals that the town can't justify all these vehicles and their ancillary costs. So, we probably don't need them.

The hypocrisy and the silence - they're both DEAFENING.

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