PALM SPRINGS – As a Palm Springs police officer takes a car out of the station, he may not be able to drive his car home for long.
“Not every officer takes a vehicle home, but those that do, they would be on call,” explains city manager David Ready. “It’s also a deterrent in a neighborhood, so it does have some benefit.”
A grand jury in San Luis Obispo County now says police and public officials taking home cars is too expensive. It costs them a million dollars a year and the grand jury wants it to stop.
Palm Springs is one city already taking steps to bring down these expenses for all vehicles.
Ready adds, “We are already using half a million dollars in next year’s budget because we are not replacing vehicles. Obviously, long term, we are continuing to negotiate the issue.”
It’s contract negotiation time with Palm Springs Police. Take home cars could be on the chopping block.
Cathedral City spends around $200,000 for 34 take home vehicles. They are not looking to reduce that number now.
Before, employees of a variety of Riverside County agencies would get taxpayer-funded cars. But many like Denys Arcuri with Supervisor Roy Wilson’s office now drive their own cars.
“We’ve got to cut out 7 percent of our expenses immediately, how do we do that? One of the things we came up with right away was, nobody takes any vehicles home,” says Arcuri.
Supervisor Wilson drives a relatively economical Toyota Camry Hybrid. But Supervisor Taviglione was given a GMC Yukon Hybrid SUV. Its got a rear-seat DVD player and a Bose sound system. Total cost to the taxpayers is around $54,000.
Supervisor Taviglione now pays all gas and maintenance costs, but he’ll keep his new ride.
News Channel 3 is waiting for a detailed accounting of all Riverside County take home vehicles.