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Cape Coral paying insurance on more vehicles than owns

By Staff | Apr 17, 2009

Cape Coral is paying insurance on 920 on-road vehicles, 75 more than the city owns, according to a take-home vehicle audit released last month.
The report also states that city management does not have sufficient policies in place regarding the use of city-owned vehicles and does not always follow the policies it has.
“What we found was the administration’s policy … we didn’t feel like it was sufficient, and we didn’t feel like what we had was being adhered to,” city auditor Dona Newman told members of the audit committee Thursday.
There are 26 take-home vehicles, and they are non-emergency vehicles.
Newman said that because insurance costs cover all of the city’s equipment and records on vehicles were kept by individual departments rather than comprehensively, an itemized account of how much the vehicle insurance discrepancy is costing taxpayers could not be easily obtained.
“At this point in time we don’t know if the money is being used wisely or not,” she said, adding that dollar figures will be learned eventually but are not readily available.
Most city departments at the time of the audit had not conducted cost-benefit analyses related to take-home vehicles.
“The responses from departments showed that at the time of the audit, only the human resources and police department had documented cost-benefit analysis,” the audit reports.
Criteria used to determine which employees receive take-home vehicles could not be supported by data.
“Criteria to use in justifying a vehicle assignment are not defined in the city’s policies, and the departments were not able to provide data to substantiate the number of times that employees were called out,” the audit states.
There is no mechanism in city policies to determine how much mileage is being used for commuting or personal use and how much is being used on the job.
City management agreed with most of the audit’s suggestions to reform policies regarding city-owned vehicles, including creating a comprehensive recording system for all vehicles, monitoring personal use of vehicles to ensure there is an economical or operational benefit, and complying with IRS requirements regarding take-home vehicles for city employees.
“They (the IRS) sometimes hold the city responsible for the taxes (city employees) would have to pay,” audit committee Chairwoman Debbie Bautista said.
Councilmember Bill Deile will bring the issue up Monday during a council meeting.
“Most of it has to do with inadequate record keeping,” he said.
Newman’s office will follow up on its audit to track the progress of city management in implementing the audit’s suggestions. It will release a final report in 12 months if all of the 24 recommendations contained in the report are not met.
“They (city management) should be able to take care of most of (the recommendations),” Deile said.