City of Trenton Ordinance 10-007 was passed passed by the governing body on January 21, 2010. It was signed by then Mayor Douglas Palmer on January 25, 2010. It has been the law of the city since then.
That ordinance reads in part:
Passenger Motor Vehicle use
A. It is the policy of the City of Trenton that the cost of purchasing, leasing, maintaining, insuring and fueling non-specialized passenger automobiles for use by civilian public employees be reduced to the greatest extent compatible with the safe and efficient provision of municipal services. To that end, it shall be the duty of the Business Administrator forthwith to enforce the restrictions on on the acquisition, maintenance and assignment of non-specialized passenger motor vehicles as set forth below as of the effective date of this Ordinance.
The ordinance goes on to enumerate various things the BA is responsible to submit to the Mayor and City Council including, under items number 3 and 4:
3. For each vehicle listed, the name, office, or position or employment or agency of each person who has been or is currently assigned or otherwise permitted to operate it shall be set forth, stating the date or date range of each person's usage of that vehicle.
4. For each non-specialized passenger vehicle on the list, the Business Administrator shall provide a concise explanation as to the purpose served by continuing the City's ownership and maintenance of the vehicle and by not requiring the assigned user or users to use personal vehicles on a reimbursement basis.We've written about the abuse of the unnecessary vehicle fleet before. You can read it here, here and here.
For at least the third time in four years, we requested the vehicle list AND the "concise explanation" as to why it is better for the city to own maintain the specific vehicles than reimburse the employee for using their personal cars.
The initial response was a general inventory of vehicles and where they were assigned. But there was no explanation given as to why it is a good idea for the city to maintain the fleet. We reminded the City Clerk's office that the response to the OPRA request was incomplete and asked for the explanation to be provided.
This is the response we received:
"According to the Department of Public Works; The City of Trenton limits the assignment of vehicles to personnel depending upon their daily responsibilities and necessity to respond during emergencies. Under the direction of the Business Administrator, each department Director reviews their respective employees’ assigned tasks to determine and establish the vehicle use limits based on the same. Directors are also assigned vehicles which are used at their discretion."Thanks, but that is not what we asked for.
Mr. Mayor, Mr. BA, Ms. Chief of Staff, and Mr. Council President:
Does the Administration and/or the Governing Body of the City of Trenton ever intend to follow the procedures spelled out in plain English regarding the non-specialized passenger vehicle fleet? It is, after all, the law!
For all the lip service given to new beginnings, accountability and such, to date, on at least this one matter, you are no better than either of the two Administrations/Councils to come before you.