Thursday, April 14, 2011

No Mistake: Ballard Just Won't Enforce Fuel Surcharge Ordinance

There may be a city ordinance that requires the municipal corporation to collect a surcharge from public employees with take-home cars when gas prices reach a certain level, but Mayor Greg Ballard thinks he's above the law and won't enforce it. If you thought Sandra Chapman's discovery that the surcharge was not being collected was simply an oversight, think again. Ballard has made a deliberate decision not to enforce the ordinance because he thinks taxpayers, whose budgets have already been broken by skyrocketing gas prices, should shoulder the burden of buying gas for public employees' personal use. WRTV's Jack Rinehart reports:

"The last thing we want to do is take $25 per paycheck, or $50 a month, out of the hands of our public safety officers and take money away from their families on a monthly basis," said spokesman Marc Lotter.

In the first two months of the year, records show the city's fleet burned through nearly 750,000 gallons of gas.

Much of that mileage comes from police vehicles, many of which are take-home cars.

Chief Paul Ciesielski said his department has cut back on the number of miles driven, along with wasteful idle time. He said there's also a benefit to officers taking home their squad cars.

"I think, at this point, every officer is conscious of the rising gas prices," he said. "One of things that people don't realize is the number of times we do stop and we do help to assist people when we're off-duty in those cars."
The ordinance in question was a comprise proposed by the administration and offered by Councilor Ben Hunter, a former IMPD officer, to fight off attempts to limit the costs borne by taxpayers when public safety officers moonlight using their police cars and equipment for private security work. The idea behind the ordinance was to require employees with take-home cars to reimburse the City $25 out of each paycheck when gas prices topped $3 a gallon. Even the FOP's president, Bill Owensby, says his members don't object to paying the surcharge given the high fuel costs. Yet Ballard's administration won't collect the surcharge even as it is asking city and county agencies to trim 5% from their budget's this year due to revenue shortfalls. It is now self-evidence the ordinance offered by Councilor Hunter was a bait-and-switch scam to tamper criticism of police officers' earning substantial off-duty income using their take-home cars and equipment. Ballard is effectively using what should be taxpayers' money to buy votes from the police. He certainly hasn't been concerned when it comes to picking taxpayers' pockets for additional revenues through higher taxes and fees to fund bailouts for the CIB and multi-million dollar give-aways to his fat-cat contributors.


IndyDem said...

He'll nickel and dime us at every opportunity but wont follow the law. Hmm.

Paul K. Ogden said...

So does Ballard think not charging the $25 some how makes up for his saddling IMPD with Frank Straub? Is that his bizarro strategy?

Again, I don't know what authority the mayor has to not enforce a duly passed ordinance.

Had Enough Indy? said...

I'm with Paul, I don't see where the ordinance is optional.