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Sedgwick County officials want policy on use of county vehicles

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 2, 2014, at 8:15 p.m.

The Sedgwick County clerk, treasurer and register of deeds are seeking a $4,800 annual car allowance, but they say the request is really a plea for the county to come up with a policy on the use of autos on county business.

The request comes from Bill Meek, register of deeds, and will go before the County Commission on Wednesday.

Meek recommends adding $4,800 a year to the pay of the three officials beginning this year and applying retroactively for the entire calendar year. A background report on the item included in the commission’s agenda for the meeting says the allowances are taxable compensation and would represent a pay hike of 6 percent for each official.

County management has made no recommendation on what action the commissioners should take.

Meek said there is no county policy that involves car allowances or mileage reimbursement.

“We’ve been trying to get some kind of recognition to this for quite a few years and this was our last resort,” Meek said.

County Clerk Kelly Arnold said the request isn’t about the money, but more about determining options for use of county vehicles and who has the authority to decide those options.

“I just would like to see a level playing field so we know what the rules are,” Arnold said.

The county currently reimburses elected officials with a car allowance, or with a mileage reimbursement plan.

The five county commissioners get car allowances of $4,800 a year in lieu of the use of a county car. All other elected officials are reimbursed at a rate of 56 cents per mile.

Others who get car allowances are County Manager William Buchanan, District Attorney Marc Bennett, Chief Medical Examiner Jaime Oeberst, Regional Forensic Science Center director Tim Rohrig, and Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department Director Tom Stolz.

Treasurer Linda Kizzire said she doesn’t always submit her mileage.

“We’ve got tag offices all over town and I never turn mileage in on those visits,” she said.

Meek said there are about 70 other county officials who get a car allowance or a car. Many are sheriff’s office personnel who are always on call or on duty, he said, but there is no policy for others who get them.

“What I’m trying to do is get the commission to set up a policy that is acceptable,” Meek said. “We’re spending county money, but we don’t have a policy.”

According to the agenda background report, the yearly $4,800 car allowance would come from the personnel budgets of each office.

“Related to reclassification of positions in Fall 2013, the 1st Quarter Financial Report projects that the Register of Deeds office will have a deficit of $24,174 in their personnel budget for 2014 and the County Clerk’s office will have a deficit of $52,855 in personnel for 2014, while the County Treasurer’s office is currently estimated to have $7,489 remaining in their personnel budget at the end of 2014,” the report said.

Budget authority transfers to the register of deeds and clerk’s offices would be necessary to fund the allowances.

Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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