Monday, April 11, 2011

Ballard Administration Refuses To Enforce Fuel Surcharge Ordinance On Take Home Cars

The administration of Mayor Greg Ballard is thumbing its nose at an ordinance adopted by the Indianapolis City-County Council intended to partially recoup some of the fuel costs incurred by city employees with take home vehicles. The badly-worded ordinance left it to a Fuel Board chaired by DPW Director David Sherman to impose a $25 per paycheck surcharge deducted from the paychecks of city employees with take home cars when the price of gas exceeded $3 a gallon. The board has not bothered to meet for the past two years after the ordinance was adopted in 2008. WTHR's Sandra Chapman learns the administration dropped the plan to implement the surcharge when gas prices dropped below $3 but failed to revisit the issue when prices spiked again. She estimates the city has so far failed to recoup at least $150,000 since the beginning of this year alone.

A tax break designed for you is not working, and it's costing all of us more in gas bills.

City workers who take home city cars agreed to pay a share for rising prices at the pump. When prices spiked well above $3 a gallon in 2008, the City-County Council came together to lessen the burn. They passed a fuel surcharge ordinance allowing the city to recoup $25 per paycheck from emergency services employees with take home vehicles, but only after prices reach a certain threshold.

City Councilman Brian Mahern considered it a win-win.

"This proposal was approved in a bipartisan way, common sense, cost-savings measure," said Mahern (D-City-County Council).

Now, three years after it was supposed to go into effect, 13 Investigates has learned the city has yet to collect one dime. But don't blame police and firefighters.
Bill Owensby, FOP President, tells Chapman his organization has had no discussions with the administration asking that the ordinance not be enforced. Chapman said she spoke to many police officers off the record who said the $25 surcharge was only fair and they had no problem paying it. So why won't the Ballard administration collect it given the tough budgetary times the city faces? Chapman tried to track down City Controller Jeff Spalding, but he ran from her when she tried to talk to him, telling her he had a meeting to attend.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Does the Mayor have the authority to not enforce an ordinance he doesn't like?

Frankly, I don't even buy that explanation. It seems they just let this slip through the cracks.

Advance Indiana said...

As tight as the budget numbers are, this is a no-brainer. Not sure why they would't be collecting these fees.

Cato said...

Cops should be driving Corollas that they leave at the station when their shift ends. Take-home cars only increase crime and steal from the taxpayers.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Cato, how do take home cars "increase crime." I would think they'd have a deterrent effect or be neutral as some studies show.

Cato said...

We've been over this.

The "studies" show of take-home cars:

1. No net reduction in crime;

2. That take-home cars become targets of crime;

3. That cops don't live in high-crime areas so any benefit of the car is misplaced;

4. That criminals are able to use the location and movement of the cars to perform logistical analysis in crime planning;

5. That cops have domestic lifestyles similar to everyone else, so they don't come running out of the house with a gun if a crime is in progress;

6. That police are forced to purchase more cars; and,

7. That these cars are a massive expense to police departments that reduce their balance sheets, thus their crime-fighting abilities.

Take-home cars are nothing but a FOP union perk, but Republicans love unions when it's the FOP.

Paul K. Ogden said...

But Cato you said take home cars lead to an INCREASE in crime. With the exception of #4, which is dubious at best (like criminals are engaging in high, level sophisicated planning involving the location of take home police cars), they don't prove that take home cars lead to an INCREASE in time.

Cato said...

Paul, see 2, 4, 6 & 7.

Indy4u2c said...


Propaganda as you frequently post doesn't get farther than the most ignorant...and they likely don't read this. That said, here is my response to your disinformation. We have a policeman in our neighborhood.

1. Cato mentioned a fictitious "study". Put up the study and provide source material, Cato! Can't? I can tell you that from years of living in our neighborhood, it is an agreed fact that we appreciate our police office neighbor's high visibility. Strangers think he is patrolling, and we like the car coming and going frequently. It makes us feel better and we do agree it deters crime.

2. Take home cars are not the target of crime that is outstanding, and our neighborhood officer has never been the target of crime, to give one example. I think you really made your point 2 out of thin air.

3. The benefit of a policeman living in our neighborhood is something we as neighbors appreciate. Oh, Cato, last I heard nobody can tell someone they must live in a certain neighborhood unless they are prisoners, so your point #3 was invalidated.

4. Criminals do not conduct "logistical analysis". Perhaps a professor or scholar would, but not a criminal, whose only goal is quick money to be spent most likely on drugs.

5. I can tell you our neighborhood policeman came running out of his house and chased a burglar who had assaulted our elderly neighbor in his home. The burglar had a car/driver down the street and got away, but it was our neighborhood policeman who helped on the case and gave the detective the name of the suspect! (Guess that disproves Cato's point #5). Additionally, in conversations with our neighborhood policeman, I am aware he caught an armed robber at our supermarket in the act, arrested burglars, gave rides to disabled motorists, helped a woman at the supermarket who just bought 2 carts of groceries and locked herself out of her car, taken police reports without telling citizens "sorry, I'm not on duty." I asked him if he got paid for those once and he told me that he wouldn't think of it, just doing the right thing at the right time.

6. Cato's point 6 was laughable. It's half a dozen of 1, or six of the other. Cars run 24/7 don't last very long. Our neighborhood officer told me once that they had 10 year old cars in-service with 200k miles. I guess when you have take-home, you don't need to replace them as often because they are properly maintained and cared for....and just what motor vehicle was built to be operated 24/7?

7. Cato cites "massive expense" from his propaganda manual, yet cannot provide scholarly documentation. I think the money saved by well-taken care of vehicles that last longer clearly balances the constant replacement of vehicles. The service donated by officers at no cost to us must be considered as well as the benefit of additional felony arrests...and you can't put a dollar value on how it makes us feel better and the deterrent effect. All in all, I think the city needs take-home police cars. I also think Cato is a propaganda minister.

Back to the thread, I don't have a problem in asking for a contribution in kind from those using the vehicles for personal use, it's appropriate.

Cato said...

Look at the big-government, pro-union idiotic scum come running to the defense of their beloved bloated, titanic, government program.

Indy4etc, your posts are so insipid that they give me a good chuckle, but nothing that demands a counter-argument.

Indy4u2c said...

Cato provides no facts, and blows false criticism using buzzwords to generate emotion. Typical of propaganda ministers.