DeSoto County addresses take-home vehicle policy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

DeSoto County addresses take-home vehicle policy

(WMC-TV) - DeSoto County is cracking down on county-owned vehicles and the employees driving them for personal use.

With national gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, vehicles paid for at the taxpayer's expense can appear to be a luxury.  DeSoto County officials recently agreed to review their take-home vehicle policy.

"We all looked at it to make sure we were in compliance with what was in the state stature and the county policy," said DeSoto County Director of Road Management Russell Dorris.

One instance where a county vehicle may have been driven without authorization was discussed.  Officials said it will not be tolerated.

Dorris said he supervises about 15 take-home vehicles that are necessary only to serve the public.

"We have been given a trust and we don't want to misuse that trust," said Dorris.

Dorris said he completely understands why taxpayers would be concerned about the misuse of county vehicles, but said he is open to scrutiny.

"We understand that the public is aware of public vehicle usage, as they should be," said Dorris.  "It's their money."

According to the DeSoto County Vehicle use policy under review, the section titled "Personal Use" states, "All county vehicles will be used for official business only," with the only exception being "incidental personal use under certain conditions."

"Incidental stopping at a place on the way home or at home is not a violation of the policy, and that's state statue, not county law," said Dorris.

All authorized users of county vehicles must sign the policy.  Dorris said violations are not tolerated.

"We just don't use these vehicles outside the vehicle policy, that's just something we don't do," said Dorris.  "If we find someone doing that, then we take personnel action against them."

Dorris said many of his employees use the take-home vehicles to ensure an effective emergency response.  The vehicle policy states that employees must also understand that a county-assigned vehicle is a privilege and not a mandatory requirement.

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