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Ogdensburg councilor proposes new vehicle policy

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City employees soon may lose the perk of driving their work cars home on their lunch breaks or after their shifts.

Councilor Wayne L. Ashley proposed a resolution after Monday’s meeting that all staff members leave city-owned vehicles on municipal property overnight.

Mr. Ashley said he was inspired to make the proposal after incoming City Manager John M. Pinkerton asked for his city car to be taken out of his contract.

Traditionally, Ogdensburg’s managers and some department heads have received vehicles for work-related activity.

“I thought it was best since we entered into a contract negotiation with a new city manager and it was mutually agreed upon that he would not have a city vehicle,” Mr. Ashley said. “I think it sets an example for all employees that they should not use their city vehicles to go home, go to lunch, and all city vehicles need to stay in the city overnight.”

Mr. Ashley said many employees were using their vehicles for purposes outside the scope of work, some driving after their shifts to homes outside the city.

Kit W. Smith, director of the Department of Public Works, said his on-call staff might need city vehicles to respond to emergencies.

“I always feel time is of the essence. Especially when a big water main breaks, you have to get to it,” he said. “The DPW supervisor is on call 24/7. He carries a pager, and he carries his maps in his city truck.”

That argument did not sway Mr. Ashley, who noted that Ogdensburg’s police and fire chiefs do not take their city vehicles home.

“What emergency would somebody from DPW have to have a vehicle on call that would overshadow a policeman or fireman’s emergencies?” he asked.

Most council members seemed receptive to Mr. Ashley’s proposal, which could be on the council’s Oct. 10 agenda.

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